regular-article-logo Wednesday, 29 November 2023

NASA astronaut Frank Rubio returns back to Earth after being stuck in space for 371 days

Two Russian cosmonauts were also stuck with the American astronaut, the trio landed in a remote area of Kazakhstan

REBECCA CARBALLO, AP/PTI Cape Canaveral Published 29.09.23, 06:54 AM
Nasa astronaut Frank Rubio

Nasa astronaut Frank Rubio Wikipedia

A Nasa astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts returned to Earth on Wednesday after being stuck in space for just over a year. American Frank Rubio set a record for the longest US spaceflight — a result of the extended stay.

The trio landed in a remote area of Kazakhstan, descending in a Soyuz capsule that was rushed up as a replacement after their original ride was hit by space junk and lost all its coolant while docked to the International Space Station.


What should have been a 180-day mission turned into a 371-day stay. Rubio spent more than two weeks longer in space than Mark Vande Hei, who held Nasa’s previous endurance record for a single spaceflight. Russia holds the world record of 437 days, set in the mid-1990s.

The Soyuz capsule that brought Rubio and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin back was a replacement launched in February. Russian engineers suspect a piece of space junk pierced the radiator of their original capsule last year, midway through what should have been a six-month mission.

Engineers worried that without cooling, the capsule’s electronics and any occupants could overheat to dangerous levels, so the craft returned empty. There wasn’t another Soyuz to launch a fresh crew until this month. Their replacements finally arrived nearly two weeks ago.

“No one deserves to go home to their families more than you,” the space station’s new commander, Denmark’s Andreas Mogensen, said.

Prokopyev told ground controllers throughout the descent that all three were feeling good. They experienced more than four times the force of gravity as their capsule streaked through the atmosphere and came to a touchdown in the barren Kazakh steppes, ending up on its side.

“It’s good to be home,” Rubio said after being pulled from the capsule.

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