NASA astronaut Frank Rubio returns to Earth after completing 371-day space mission
NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, along with Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, returned to Earth on Sept. 27 after a historic 371-day mission in space. Their safe landing in Kazakhstan marked the end of an unexpected journey that redefined the limits of human endurance beyond the planet.
Originally scheduled for a six-month stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS), Rubio’s mission took an unforeseen turn when a coolant leak was detected in the Soyuz MS-22 capsule, which was initially meant to bring them home. This discovery led to their extended stay, making Rubio the first American astronaut to spend an entire calendar year in orbit.
Throughout their stay on the ISS, Rubio, Prokopyev, and Petelin accomplished several milestones. They traveled approximately 157 million miles, completed an astonishing 5,936 orbits around the Earth, and experienced the arrival and departure of numerous spacecraft, both crewed and uncrewed.
Their extended mission provided invaluable insights into the effects of long-duration spaceflight on the human body, which is essential as NASA prepares for future lunar and Martian explorations.
The trio’s return to Earth was nothing short of remarkable. The Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft safely touched down southeast of Zhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, aided by parachutes. Following their arrival, they underwent thorough medical checks, with Rubio set to continue his journey home to Houston.
Frank Rubio makes his own mark
Rubio’s accomplishments extend beyond breaking records. He achieved a milestone of his own, becoming the first astronaut of Salvadoran origin to journey to low-Earth orbit. As a medical doctor and military helicopter pilot, Rubio brought a unique skill set to the ISS.
As they return to Earth, Rubio and his fellow crew members look forward to readjusting to life on the planet, acknowledging that it will take time for their bodies to adapt to gravity once more. Yet, they are eager to embrace the simple pleasures of Earth, such as enjoying the peace and quiet outdoors.
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The safe return of Rubio and his crewmates marks the conclusion of a remarkable chapter in space exploration, one that has pushed the boundaries of human achievement and expanded our horizons both in space and on Earth.