HOUSTON — NASA astronaut Frank Rubio returned home after being in space for over a year, more than six months longer than expected, breaking a previous record.
Rubio and his crewmates landed on Sept. 27 in Kazakhstan just after 7 a.m. EST, NASA said.
Rubio was in space for a record-breaking 371 days. NASA said his mission was the longest single spaceflight by a NASA astronaut.
“Rubio traveled more than 157 million miles (250 million km) around the Earth, the equivalent of 328 trips to the Moon and back. Rubio went on three spacewalks, witnessed the arrival of 15 spacecraft to the International Space Station, and participated in countless scientific experiments to help us better understand space and make life better back on Earth,” NASA said
Rubio was originally expected to only be gone for about six months. He was on the Russian Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan last September, according to The New York Times.
Things changed in December after a coolant leak was found in the spacecraft by mission control. The crew had to wait for a different spacecraft to be sent to the space station because of the possibility that the leak could have created dangerous hot temperatures for the crew as they made their way back to Earth, the Times reported.
Rubio broke the single spaceflight record which was 355 days for a U.S. astronaut that NASA said was held by Mark Vande Hei, the newspaper reported.
“Frank’s record-breaking time in space is not just a milestone; it’s a major contribution to our understanding of long-duration space missions,” said NASA Administrator Bill Nelson. “Our astronauts make extraordinary sacrifices away from their homes and loved ones to further discovery. NASA is immensely grateful for Frank’s dedicated service to our nation and the invaluable scientific contributions he made on the International Space Station. He embodies the true pioneer spirit that will pave the way for future exploration to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.”
During his time in space, Rubio helped provide researchers “the opportunity to observe the effects that long spaceflight has on humans as the agency plans to return to the Moon with the Artemis missions and to explore Mars.,” Nelson added, according to the Times.