Last week, Frank Rubio reached the milestone of spending the longest time in space of any NASA astronaut. Now, he has broken another record. He’s the first US astronaut to have spent a whole consecutive year in space, and he’s still got a few more days to go before he comes down to Earth on September 27.
Rubio was stranded on the International Space Station (ISS) with cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin. Their Soyuz capsule was hit by a micrometeorite leading to a coolant leak. The event led to a shuffling of missions from Russia. An empty Soyuz was sent to space, but the trio had to take over the work of the cosmonauts and astronauts who would have traveled on it.
Rubio and NASA marked the milestone by doing a live interview from space. He was asked if he would have accepted the mission if he had known he would have to be in space for 370 days – and he was very honest in saying that he wouldn’t have.
“If they had asked me upfront before training, because you do train for a year or two years for your mission, I probably would have declined,” Rubio told reporters on Tuesday during a live broadcast from the ISS. “It would have hurt, but I would have declined.”
“That's only because of family things that were going on this past year and had I known that I would have had to miss those very important events, I just would have had to say ‘thank you, but no thank you.’”
Rubio was also asked what he is going to do as soon as he gets back home, with the interviewer mentioning how Scott Kelly went straight to the pool when he got back home from his residency in the ISS. For Rubio, it's his quiet backyard that he misses.
“Hugging my wife and kids is going to be paramount and I’ll probably focus on that for the first couple of days,” Rubio answered.
“We're blessed enough to have kind of a quiet backyard and I think just going out in the yard and enjoying the trees and the silence. Up here, we kind of have the constant hum of machinery, that's keeping us alive it's very important but it is just a constant hum... so I’m looking forward to just being outside and enjoying the peace and quiet.”
Rubio will be landing in the Kazakh Steppe before being flown back to the USA.