NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and his two Russian Soyuz spacecraft crewmates are preparing to conclude their unexpected year-long mission on the International Space Station (ISS) on September 27th, according to their current schedule. Originally, their stay in orbit was not planned for such a lengthy period. However, in December 2022, the spacecraft that was supposed to bring them back to Earth encountered a significant leak.
In an interview, Rubio discussed the numerous challenges of spending a year in space. He mentioned the difficulty of maintaining mental sharpness and staying prepared for any potential emergencies. Space missions require constant awareness and readiness due to the unpredictable nature of outer space.
Unfortunately, the Soyuz spacecraft they were meant to use for their return lost all its coolant to space, most likely due to a micrometeoroid strike. This compelled Russian officials to consider alternative options for bringing the crew back. Ultimately, a replacement Soyuz had to be sent up to the ISS, resulting in a delay in their return.
As a result, Rubio and his colleagues had to stay on board until the end of September, when a relief crew would arrive. During this extended mission, Rubio expressed his gratitude for the unwavering support of his family, who stood by him during his time in space.
On September 11th, Rubio officially broke the U.S. record for the longest continuous days spent in space, surpassing the previous record held by Valery Polyakov on the Soviet Mir space station, which stood at 437 days. With a total of 355 days logged, Rubio will join a select group of individuals who have spent over a year in space. Only seven people in history have achieved this milestone.
Rubio and his fellow astronauts also expressed their deep appreciation for the camaraderie and strong bonds formed with their fellow crew members during their time in orbit. The experience of living and working together in such close quarters fosters a unique and lasting connection among those who have shared the challenges and wonders of space exploration.
As Rubio and his crew prepare to return to Earth, their record-breaking mission serves as a testament to the incredible resilience and adaptability of astronauts in the face of unexpected circumstances. It also highlights the importance of international cooperation and collaboration in the field of space exploration.
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