NASA astronaut Frank Rubio celebrated a spaceflight milestone with two former astronauts on Earth.
NASA‘s Frank Rubio spoke with senior NASA administration from the Worldwide House Station on Thursday (Sept. 13), two days after breaking the earlier file of 355 days on a single spaceflight. Rubio is now anticipated to spend 371 days in orbit, making him the primary American to spend greater than a yr in area on a single mission. Extra extremely, it wasn’t deliberate that means; issues along with his spacecraft compelled an anticipated six-month orbital keep to double to a yr.
“It was surprising. In some methods, it has been an unbelievable problem,” Rubio stated of the milestone through the livestreamed name on NASA Tv, with NASA administrator Invoice Nelson and deputy administrator Pam Melroy. “However in different methods, it has been an unbelievable blessing. I rely myself fortunate and honored to have the ability to symbolize the company and our nation.”
Rubio, a Salvadorian-American born in Los Angeles, added that along with his record-breaking keep falling throughout Nationwide Hispanic Heritage Month (which concludes Oct. 15), he finds it “well timed” because it “symbolizes the range of the fantastic wealthy cloth of America.”
Associated: NASA astronaut Frank Rubio shocked by his unintended file in area (video)
Rubio and his Russian MS-22 Soyuz spacecraft crewmates Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, cosmonauts from Roscosmos, have been scheduled to spend a typical six months in area after launching Sept. 21, 2022. Each Rubio and Petelin have been on their first flight.
Midway by way of their keep, nevertheless, MS-22, additionally serving as their experience dwelling, dramatically misplaced all its coolant in a December 2022 leak. After contemplating choices, Roscosmos quickly shipped up an empty alternative Soyuz, referred to as MS-23, which arrived on Feb. 25.
The companies additionally formulated an emergency escape plan from the ISS earlier than MS-23 arrived, assigning Rubio on a short lived seat (involving tie-down straps on the ground of an already docked SpaceX Crew Dragon). His Russian crewmates have been licensed to make use of MS-22 if completely wanted, as two people wouldn’t warmth up the uncooled spacecraft as quickly as three. However that plan fortunately didn’t must be carried out after MS-23 safely docked.
Learn extra: Russia’s alternative Soyuz spacecraft arrives at area station
Rubio and his crewmates, nevertheless, have been wanted to remain on board till a reduction crew may arrive. That required getting yet one more spacecraft (MS-24) prepared for spaceflight to ship the astronauts. Since NASA astronaut Loral O’Hara and Roscosmos cosmonauts Oleg Kononenko and Nikolai Chub have been supposed to make use of MS-23, that crew’s departure date on MS-24 was delayed to no sooner than Sept. 15 for his or her MS-24 reassignment.
Assuming this all goes to plan, Rubio and his crewmates will lastly depart area on Sept. 27.
“As a lot because it was a problem to say an additional six months, I am so grateful that the company was in a position to say, ‘Hey, you realize what the protected factor to do can be: To fireside up a brand new spacecraft, and have (my crew) wait and guarantee a extra protected return,” Rubio stated within the name, including, “I’m trying ahead to a return on a extra protected and safer spacecraft.”
Nelson and Melroy, each flown astronauts from the area shuttle program, paid tribute to the challenges Rubio had confronted in orbit. (Melroy flew thrice as a NASA astronaut. Nelson, then a member of the Home of Representatives on an area committee, flew on mission STS-61C in 1986 below a program NASA then had for non-professionals to succeed in area.)
“You made every kind of information up there, and you’ve got had six months that you simply did not anticipate,” stated Nelson, talking from NASA Headquarters in Washington, D.C.
Melroy, standing beside Nelson within the view of the video, stated Rubio’s spouse and youngsters “have been on my thoughts a lot.” The previous astronaut added she needed to verify in to ensure Rubio was getting the help he wanted.
Rubio stated that the NASA group had rallied round him, sending individuals over to the home as wanted to assist the household. Fortunately, upgrades to NASA’s web on station got here in throughout his mission as nicely, permitting for high-quality video conferences with household at the very least twice per week, he stated.
Rubio joked that his solely remorse was not consuming one of many space-grown Purple Robin tomatoes his crew tended, and managed to save lots of from an unexpected humidity drop on ISS at an important development level. Rubio’s inch-long tomato sadly floated away to a hidden spot earlier than he may take a chew. “I spent so many hours in search of that factor,” he quipped. “I am positive the desiccated tomato will present up sooner or later and vindicate me, years sooner or later.”
Solely seven astronauts have spent greater than a yr in area. Other than the trio on MS-22/23, the opposite 4 have been cosmonauts on missions visiting the then-Soviet Mir area station. Topping the listing is Valery Polyakov (437 days), whereas the others are Sergey Avdeev, Musa Manarov and Vladimir Titov.
Rubio’s mark surpasses the 355-day file final set by NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei. Vande Hei was additionally anticipated to spend six months in area, however realized preflight he might prolong to a yr because of area station staffing wants (which is what ended up taking place.)
Vande Hei, talking with Rubio earlier this month from NASA’s Johnson House Station in Houston, stated probably the most memorable a part of his personal keep was “the those that I acquired to spend that a lot time [with] … intensively, each working and enjoying as a lot as we probably can.”