(USNewsMag.com) – A NASA astronaut just broke the record for the longest time an American has spent in spaceflight.
Frank Rubio, a NASA astronaut from California, is now the US spaceflight world record holder as of Monday. The previous record of 355 consecutive days in space was surpassed by Rubio on Monday, meaning he’s now been up there for about 358 days as of this writing.
Rubio and two Russian astronauts set off from Earth in the Soyus MS-22 and arrived at the International Space Station on September 21, 2022, for a routine six-month stay. That time was doubled after a coolant leak was discovered in their Soyuz capsule while parked at the outpost, which could have posed a risk on their return to Earth.
The capsule leak happened in December 2022, and then in February of this year, another leak was discovered on a docked Russian cargo ship, the Progress MS-21. After inspection, the astronauts found the leak was not a manufacturing flaw but came from impacts by small meteorites, which they also believe caused the first leak.
A new crew of one American and two Russians will be sent up to replace Rubio and the other two stranded astronauts on the space station. The new crew is scheduled to launch on September 15 from Kazakhstan. Rubio and the other two astronauts will return on September 27 in a replacement capsule, the Soyus MS-23, which was sent up empty.
By the time he leaves, Rubio’s record will hit a total of 371 days, which is over two weeks longer than the previous U.S. record holder, Mark Vande Hei. The world record was set in the 1990s by the Russian astronaut Valeri Polyakov, and her 437 consecutive days in spaceflight have yet to be surpassed.
The chief of NASA, Bill Nelson, praised the American astronaut and said Rubio’s “dedication is truly out of this world.”
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