Frank Rubio, an astronaut on the NASA space station, breaks the record for longest single-flight duration.

Frank Rubio, an astronaut on the NASA space station, breaks the record for longest single-flight duration.

438 days in space

Frank Rubio, an astronaut, broke the U.S. record for longest single-flight endurance on Monday when he spent over 438 days in space due to issues with his return trip on a Russian spacecraft. He was forced to stay aboard the International Space Station for an additional six months.Mark Vande Hei’s 355 days off planet.

Rubio, along with cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, have scheduled to return to Earth on September 27 via a replacement Soyuz ferry ship, concluding their record-breaking 371-day mission in space. This will mark the longest duration in space for an American astronaut.

On September 21, Prokopyev, Petelin, and Rubio initiated their return trip, originally scheduled for March. However, in December, their Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft experienced a significant coolant leak, likely caused by a micrometeoroid collision.

NASA astronaut Frank Rubio (top left), cosmonaut Dmitri Petelin (top right) and Soyuz MS-22/23 commander Sergey Prokopyev (center) plan to undock from the International Space Station and return to Earth Sept. 27 to close out an extended 271-day mission – the longest single flight yet for an American astronaut. NASA

Following a thorough examination, Russian officials determined that cabin temperatures may surpass safe levels during the re-entry process. As a precaution, they decided to launch an unmanned Soyuz replacement in February. This mission successfully completed an automated rendezvous and docking.

Scott Kelly was the initial American to spend almost a full year in space, totaling 340 days. He was then followed by Vande Hei, who spent 355 days in space, and Christina Koch, who spent 329 days. Now, Rubio has surpassed them all by spending 371 days in space.

Rubio, Prokopyev and Petelin will be replaced by a fresh Soyuz crew — Oleg Kononenko, Nikolai Chub and NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara — scheduled for launch Friday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Kononenko and Chub have a plan to spend a full year on the station. In March of next year, a different Soyuz will launch with experienced commander Oleg Novitskiy, NASA astronaut Tracy Dyson, and Belarusian researcher Marina Vasilevskaya on board.

Novitskiy, Vasilevskaya, and O’Hara will come back to Earth in approximately 10 days. Kononenko, Chub, and Dyson will continue to orbit until September of next year. By the end of their year-long mission, Kononenko will have spent over 1,000 days in space, surpassing yet another record for completing five flights.

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