Frank Rubio: The Salvadorian-origin astronaut who broke a record in space
He is part of the longest space mission carried out by a United States astronaut.
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After completing 356 days aboard the International Space Station (ISS) on Sep. 11, Salvadorian-American astronaut Frank Rubio surpassed the previous mark held by his retired NASA colleague Mark Vande Hei.
If his return to Earth goes smoothly as scheduled for Sep. 27, Rubio will complete 371 days in orbit, which would also make him the first American to spend more than a calendar year in microgravity.
In a video presentation of the U.S. agency in 2022, which text was shared by CNN, the 47-year-old astronaut said:
I am the result of many sacrifices and great teams.
Although Rubio's mark does not become a world record, since the late Russian astronaut Valeri Polyakov recorded 437 continuous days in orbit aboard the Russian space station Mir, there is no doubt that the name of this son of Latino immigrants will live on.
Born in Los Angeles to Salvadoran parents, Rubio is part of a joint mission between NASA and Roscosmos, the Russian space agency.
After graduating from the Military Academy, he earned a doctor of medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in 2010, after which he was an executive medical provider and flight surgeon at Redstone Arsenal, Alabama.
He has an extensive military career, with more than 1,100 flight hours, including more than 600 combat hours during deployments in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq.
In 2017 he entered NASA to become an astronaut, being one of the 12 selected from a group of 18,000 applicants.
Record by Chance
According to CNN, Rubio's mission was not originally designed to break records.
“When Rubio departed for the space station aboard a Russian Soyuz capsule on Sep. 21, 2022, he and his crewmates believed they were carrying out a six-month mission,” noted the news network .
After the spacecraft carrying Rubio and his two Russian colleagues suffered a coolant leak in Dec., officials at Roscosmos deemed the ship unsafe to carry the crew home.
Astronaut Mark Vande Hei “passes the torch” to astronaut Frank Rubio, who just beat his record for single longest US spaceflight.— NASA (@NASA) September 12, 2023
Rubio’s extended stay aboard the @Space_Station helps us see how the human body reacts to microgravity, and informs future missions to deep space. pic.twitter.com/crhO3lDgXR
Rubio is part of the crew exchange agreement between NASA and Roscosmos that was celebrated in the summer of 2022.
CNN points out that Rubio has experienced the greatest challenge of his career.
“Not only because his trip to the International Space Station is part of the broader Artemis program, which seeks to prepare the conditions so that humans can return to the Moon and also visit Mars. But also because it is his first trip to space to the International Space Station,” the outlet highlights.
The record for an American with the most accumulated days in space is held by Peggy Whitson, with a total of 675 days in orbit.