Astronaut Frank Rubio marked a year in space on Thursday, September 21, NASA said, nearing the end of a mission to the International Space Station that was meant to last only six months.
Rubio arrived at the ISS with cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin on September 21 last year, and he set the record for the longest stay in space by an American on September 11.
He is now due to return to Earth on September 27, after 371 days in space. Russian cosmonaut Valeri Polyakov holds the overall record for time in space, having spent 437 days on the Mir space station in the 1990s.
Rubio, Prokopyev and Petelin were originally intended to spend six months aboard the ISS, but a leak in their original spacecraft meant it returned to Earth unmanned, extending their stay.
NASA released a video recap of Rubio’s mission.
“The International Space Station provides a really unique platform where we can study the hardest part of space exploration, which is human presence. Unfortunately, we are pretty complicated to keep alive in outer space,” Rubio says in the video. Credit: NASA via Storyful
- It's good to see you. It's good to see you, man.
FRANK RUBIO: Man, it's good to be here.
- Welcome to space.
FRANK RUBIO: It still doesn't feel real.
- Wait for five months, it still won't feel real.
- What do you think?
FRANK RUBIO: (LAUGHING INCREDUOUSLY) It's amazing. Oh, man, look at that. It is the most beautiful thing.
- Good morning, Frank. How do you read me?
FRANK RUBIO: Good morning. I have you loud and clear.
There's these amazing experiments that get sent up to the space station on behalf of teams from universities or research centers throughout the world, and we get to perform those experiments for the scientists.
So my favorite experiment is one where we're growing tomato plants. I love working with that little plant and just seeing it grow and develop.
The International Space Station provides a really unique platform where we can study kind of the hardest part of space exploration, which is human presence. Unfortunately, we are pretty complicated to keep alive in outer space.
We've been living here for over 20 years. And as we transition to the moon and even further, we're going to need all those 20 years of experience. So it's pretty exciting times.
You know, I think at heart, all of us as astronauts are explorers and scientists. And so being a part of this incredible team that gets to make this happen is pretty special.
I think the thing that I'll remember the most are my crewmates. I've been lucky enough to fly with four different crews by the time I leave. The teams that we've worked with on the ground have been phenomenal. So like, a lot of things in life that have tremendous experiences, what you end up really remembering the most are the people. And that's been the case absolutely up here.