Astronaut returns to Earth after record-breaking mission on the International Space Station
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Featured Image Credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls. NASA via Getty Images
Frank Rubio has safely landed back on Earth after a record-breaking mission on the International Space Station (ISS).
The NASA astronaut spent an incredible 371 days watching everyone from low orbit.
Spending a little more than a year on the ISS is the longest any American has spent on a single spaceflight.
The previous record was held by Mark Vande Hei, a NASA astronaut who spent 355 days on the ISS.
Rubio now joins a very exclusive club that only boasts five other members of astronauts who have spent more than a year in space.
You can imagine he would have been feeling a little homesick after all that time.
But during his mission, he was busy doing several scientific activities on the space station.
He was in charge of conducting a variety of tasks that ranged from plant research to physical sciences studies.
Researchers say his lengthy time in the cosmos will help their understanding of how the body responds to being in zero gravity.
The space agency said this will be vital as it prepares to return to the Moon through the Artemis missions and also for Mars exploration.
NASA Administrator Bill Nelson said in a statement: “Frank’s record-breaking time in space is not just a milestone; it’s a major contribution to our understanding of long-duration space missions.
'Our astronauts make extraordinary sacrifices away from their homes and loved ones to further discovery. NASA is immensely grateful for Frank’s dedicated service to our nation and the invaluable scientific contributions he made on the International Space Station.
"He embodies the true pioneer spirit that will pave the way for future exploration to the Moon, Mars, and beyond.”
Rubio left the ISS with Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin.
The trio bundled into a small spacecraft called the Soyuz MS-23, which drifted down to Earth and crashed southeast of the remote town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan.
They had to undergo medical checks before they were given an express ride back to their hometowns.