When NASA astronaut Frank Rubio launched into space in September last year, he became the first Salvadoran-American to head to orbit.
And now, 355 days later, Rubio has just set another record for the longest stay in space by a NASA astronaut.
Rubio set the record at 1:39 p.m. ET on Monday, September 11, beating the 355 days, 3 hours, and 45 minutes logged by NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei last year.
Rubio, who is on his very first space mission, is scheduled to return to Earth in a couple of weeks’ time, extending his time in space to 371 days. NASA posted a message on X, formerly Twitter, announcing his spaceflight record.
When Rubio blasted off aboard a Soyuz spacecraft in September last year to begin his mission, a record-breaking stay in orbit was not on the cards.
Like most long-duration missions by professional astronauts, he was scheduled to stay aboard the ISS for six months, along with his two traveling companions, Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin. But an unexpected leak aboard his Soyuz capsule in December changed the course of his mission.
Russian space officials deemed the capsule unsafe to bring the trio home and so decided to send up a replacement Soyuz spacecraft at the end of February. The changeover prompted officials overseeing the mission to reschedule it, extending it by another six months.
In a message posted on X on Monday, NASA chief Bill Nelson said: “Frank Rubio’s journey in space embodies the essence of exploration. As he breaks records as the longest serving NASA U.S. astronaut in space, he also paves the way for future generations of astronauts.”
Nelson added: “Your dedication is truly out of this world, Frank!”
While Rubio has now bagged the record for the longest continuous space mission by a NASA astronaut, the record stay by any spacefarer remains with Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov, who lived aboard the Mir space station for 437 days and 18 hours in the mid-1990s.
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