A Soyuz capsule with three people on board landed on Wednesday in the middle of nowhere southeast of the city of Zhezkazgan in Kazakhstan. These are Russian cosmonauts Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin and American astronaut Francisco Rubio, who have just returned from the International Space Station. The latter entered the history of NASA, which made the authorities of the American space agency very happy.
Over a year of continuous stay in space. He planned to come back earlier
47-year-old Frank Rubio spent exactly 371 days in space (exactly 370 days, 21 hours and 23 minutes) without interruption, thus breaking the American record for the length of stay in space. No other American has spent more time off our planet on a single, continuous mission, and none has left Earth for more than a year. Rubio, therefore, improved by just over two weeks the record set in 2022 by the American Mark Vande Hei, who spent 355 days in orbit.
Rubio launched into space on September 21, 2022, from the Russian Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, along with Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin. His mission was to last six months, and his return was planned for March this year. However, NASA decided to extend his mission once he was already in space. The agency emphasizes that this will allow it to better investigate the impact of long-term stay in space on the human body. This is extremely important before manned flights to Mars, because the flight itself (one way) to this planet will take astronauts at least several months.
Frank’s record in space is not just a milestone, it is an extremely important contribution to our knowledge of long-duration space missions. Our astronauts make extraordinary sacrifices away from their homes and loved ones to make further discoveries. NASA is extremely grateful to Frank for his dedicated service to our nation and the invaluable scientific contributions he made to the International Space Station. He embodies a true pioneering spirit that will pave the way for future lunar and Mars exploration missions
– NASA Bill Nelson when Rubio returned from orbit.
NASA astronaut Frank Rubio landed in Kazakhstan photo: Ivan Timoshenko, Roscosmos space corporation via AP
He circled the Earth six thousand times. He traveled millions of kilometers
The statistics regarding Frank Rubio’s extraordinary mission are also extremely impressive. During more than a year in space, together with the entire space station, it circled our planet 5,936 times, covering 413.6 million km during this time. According to NASA calculations, this is a distance equivalent to approximately 328 trips from the Earth to the Moon and back. Rubio also welcomed 15 manned and unmanned spacecraft aboard the ISS, and 14 of them returned to Earth while he was in orbit.
The astronaut also witnessed the failure reported at the beginning of this year. It was very loud in the media. The Russian Soyuz MS-22 capsule in which Rubio, Prokopyev and Petelin reached the ISS was damaged and had to return to Earth without a crew. As a result of the impact of a meteoroid (or space debris), the Soyuz leaked coolant. As a replacement, the Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft was sent, with which the American and two Russians returned to Earth.
Frank Rubio’s achievement is even more impressive because it was his first time in space. In 2017, Rubio began the standard two-year training to become a NASA astronaut. In 2019, he officially became an astronaut of the American agency, and in July 2022, NASA decided to send him to the International Space Station.
The Americans are still a little short of the Russians’ records
Frank Rubio – although he is an American record holder – is not the record holder in terms of the length of stay in space in general. The longest uninterrupted space mission in history was carried out by Soviet and then Russian cosmonaut Valery Polyakov, who spent 437 days and 18 hours on the Mir space station in 1994-1995.
The record for the total stay in space (across multiple missions) is held by another Russian – Gennady Padalka, who spent 879 days in space in five missions on the Mir and ISS stations. In the USA, such a record is held by astronaut Peggy Whitson, who spent a total of 675 days on the International Space Station (four missions). Whitson also became the world’s longest-serving woman in space.
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