A NASA astronaut returned safely to Earth on Wednesday after spending 371 days in space, a spaceflight record for American astronauts.
NASA’s Frank Rubio and his colleagues, Roscosmos astronauts Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitry Petlin, made a safe parachute-assisted landing southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan, at 7:17 a.m. ET.
After undergoing post-landing medical examinations, the crew will return to Karaganda, Kazakhstan. Mr. Rubio will then board a NASA plane bound for Houston, where he lives with his family.
“For me, frankly, hugging my wife and kids is obviously going to be very important, and I’ll probably focus on that for the first couple of days,” Rubio said during a news conference from space last week.
Mr. Rubio was expected to be gone for only six months when he first began his journey aboard the Russian Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan last September.
But his return was turned upside down in December, after mission control discovered a coolant leak in the Soyuz spacecraft. A leak could have occurred Dangerously hot temperatures For the crew to return to Earth, a different spacecraft had to be sent to the space station, delaying Mr. Rubio’s return. NASA said Rubio’s only spaceflight surpassed the record of 355 days by an American astronaut, previously held by Mark Vande Heij.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said Mr. Rubio’s long, unplanned stay was more than just another milestone.
“It is a major contribution to our understanding of long-duration space missions,” Mr. Nelson said in a statement. “Our astronauts are making extraordinary sacrifices far from their homes and loved ones for the sake of further discoveries.”
During his long stay, Mr. Rubio made “invaluable scientific contributions,” Mr. Nelson said. The mission gave researchers the opportunity to observe the effects of long-term spaceflight on humans, as the agency plans to return to the moon with Artemis missions He added that exploring Mars.
Mr. Rubio spent hours conducting research on a variety of topics from plants to physical science studies. These investigations included how bacteria adapt to spaceflight and how exercise affects humans during long missions.
During his mission, Mr. Rubio completed approximately 5,936 orbits aboard the space station. It has traveled more than 157 million miles, roughly equivalent to 328 round-trip trips to the moon.
“Infuriatingly humble alcohol fanatic. Unapologetic beer practitioner. Analyst.”