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NASA astronaut Frank Rubio breaks US record for a single spaceflight

When Rubio finally touches down Sept. 27 in a replacement capsule, he will have spent 371 days in space.
NASA astronaut Frank Rubio due to break the single spaceflight record
Posted at 4:37 PM, Sep 11, 2023

It's a record NASA astronaut Frank Rubio never intended to break.

When Rubio and two Russian cosmonauts blasted off for the International Space Station last September, Rubio thought he'd be coming home in six months. But then, the Soyuz spacecraft sprung a leak, and Rubio's ride home was sent back to Earth empty.

His being stranded in space means Rubio has now broken the American record for the longest single spaceflight.

The previous record — 355 days — was held by NASA's Mark Vande Hei. Rubio, a medical doctor and former Army helicopter pilot and skydiver who grew up in Miami, also becomes one of just six people to spend an entire year in space.

The extended stay has meant more time for spacewalks and zero-gravity flips. But it also means being away from his wife and four kids and missing important family milestones.

"Yeah, you can't really make up for those, right? You know, but birthdays, anniversaries, graduation. My wife, my kids, they've been troopers and they've really handled it incredibly well," said Rubio. 

When Rubio finally touches down Sept. 27 in a replacement capsule, he will have spent 371 days in space — the most for an American in a single spaceflight. The all-time record for longest spaceflight is held by the late Russian cosmonaut Valery Polyakov at 437 days.

After more than a year in orbit, Rubio says he's most looking forward to taking a real shower.

"Also just the smells of Earth. Being outside smelling the grass and the trees. Just going for a hike or something like that. Again, it doesn't smell bad up here on station, but you just miss that natural outdoor smell more than anything," said Rubio.

The smell of Earth, and — with a new record — the taste of success.

SEE MORE: NASA's new TEMPO instrument shows how polluted cities are

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