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371 Days in space

“Not just a milestone, major contribution to our understanding of long duration space limits.”

By: Beth Templeton

Dr Frank Rubio has returned from space after spending 371 consecutive days on the international space station. He is the first American astronaut to live in space continuously for over a year. He will attend the news conference in Houston later this month where he will be a guest and speak on his experience. He is also set to be celebrated and congratulated on the success.

When Rubio finally returned to earth and landed in Kazakhstan on the 27th September, he was required to be lifted and carried out of his capsule unable to walk due to his time spent in microgravity. As soon as he completes his physical checks he is being hosted in Houston to attend a NASA news conference.

Picture by: joewakefield123

His time in space was significantly extended due to damage to the spacecraft, meaning he was unable to return back to earth. In December of 2022, the spacecraft was struck by an undefined object, causing the spacecraft to be stuck. The accident caused a radiator leak and the broken part had to be sent back to earth and replaced by a new part.

Rubio explained in an interview on September the 19th the strain that came with being away from home for so long. “You try to just focus on the job and on the mission and remain steady, because ultimately, everyday you have to show up and do the work”. Furthermore he explained missing his family dearly, and that sometimes it was hard to remain positive. Despite this, he is being hailed as a hero for his long time spent in space, and is being described as a “pioneer” for future space exploration to the moon and Mars. The stay also provided a unique opportunity to learn more about prolonged space flight and the effect it has. This research is crucial as it helps NASA scientists understand the long term effect being in space has on the human body.

An example of the potential benefits of long term space study and how it can prevent health implications on astronauts is presented in the fact that women astronauts have a shorter career than males due to the exposure of radiation. It is believed that female astronauts are more than two times likely to develop lung cancer than men - when exposed to the same amount of radiation for the same amount of time. This often means women astronauts have shorter career times which highlights how seriously this long term research is taken.

Work done by Rubio could end up exposing more truths and affecting the endeavour of space exploration forever.

While in space Rubio completed approximately 5936 orbits and a journey of more than 157 million miles. While in space he also spent a significant amount of time completing tasks on board, ranging from plant research to physical science studies. All this information will be reported back and could lead to major discoveries about space. Nasa Administrator Bill Nelson stated “Frank’s record-breaking time in space is not just a milestone; it’s a major contribution to our understanding of long duration space limits.”

The record for longest single space flight by a US astronaut was previously held by Mark Vande Hei, at 355 days who is also set to speak and attend the news conference. These achievements provide a lot for NASA and the information the scientists have to research and develop their knowledge on.


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