New single spaceflight record holder: NASA's Frank Rubio

Rubio has spent more than 355 days aboard the ISS and will spend more than a year aboard the space station before returning to Earth.
Chris Young
NASA astronaut Frank Rubio aboard the ISS.
NASA astronaut Frank Rubio aboard the ISS.


NASA astronaut Frank Rubio now holds the record for the American who has flown the longest space mission in US history.

Rubio broke the record yesterday, September 11, at 1:39 p.m. EDT (1739 GMT) aboard the International Space Station (ISS). He surpassed the 355 days, 3 hours and 45 minutes logged by NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei in 2022.

What's more, Rubio is not scheduled to return to Earth until September 27, meaning he will soon also become the first American to spend a year or more in space.

The longest single NASA astronaut mission

Rubio, who is serving as a member of the ISS's 69th expedition crew, is expected to spend a total of 371 days in Earth orbit aboard the ISS. In doing so, he will join a prestigious list with only six other people who have spent a year or more in space.

The NASA astronaut launched to the ISS on September 21, 2022, aboard a Russian Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft.

Rubio and his crewmates, Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin, were originally scheduled to spend about six months aboard the space station.

However, on December 14, Russian flight controllers discovered a coolant leak on the crew's Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft, leading to the cancelation of a planned spacewalk for the two cosmonauts. A "rescue" Soyuz MS-23 was subsequently launched to the ISS, and the three crew members' mission was extended for six months — meaning they also served as part of Expedition 69.

In a recent interview with ABC's Good Morning America, Rubio said, "It's an honor to be able to be considered one of the people that's going to have spent a year in space."

Rubio also acknowledged the fact that astronauts will increasingly spend more and more time in space as NASA and other space agencies gradually prepare for human spaceflight to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.

"For sure, this record will soon be broken again," Rubio said, adding that the record is "really significant, in the sense that it teaches us that the human body can endure, it can adapt and — as we prepare to push back to the Moon and then from there, onward onto hopefully Mars and further on into the solar system — I think it's really important that we learn just how the human body learns to adapt, and how we can optimize that process so that we can improve our performance as we explore further and further out from Earth."

Who holds the overall space mission record?

Much like Rubio, the previous US record holder, Vande Hei didn't know he was going to spend almost a year aboard the ISS. Vande Hei's mission was extended to help accommodate a Russian movie crew visit to the ISS. It was also partly down to the fact that, had he left on schedule, the ISS would have been left without an American on board.

The record holder before Vande Hei was Scott Kelly and his 340-day stay was planned as a means of gathering data on the effects of lengthy space missions on the human body.

Rubio's Soyuz MS-23 crewmates, Prokopyev and Petelin, meanwhile, are the sixth and seventh Russians to spend a year in space. However, they are the first to do so aboard the ISS, as the previous records were broken aboard Russia's former space station, Mir. One of the Mir cosmonauts, Valery Polyakov, still holds the record for the longest-ever single space mission of 437 days.

Rubio was the first NASA astronaut to fly on a Russian rocket since the start of Russia's invasion of Ukraine. During his time on the ISS, he performed several experiments, including remotely controlling robots on Earth from the ISS.

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