A faulty rocket left an astronaut stranded in space. Now he's a record breaker

Only a handful of people have spent over a year in space, and US astronaut Dr Frank Rubio is set to join the club.

On Monday, Dr Rubio broke the US record for the longest space mission by surpassing the previous record of 355 days, 3 hours and 45 minutes set by Mark Vande Hei in 2022.

This is just the first record set by Dr Rubio, as he is not scheduled to return to Earth until September 27 meaning – he will spend a total of 371 days in space, becoming the first American to spend a year in space.

However, Dr Rubio did not intended to stay in space for so long. As a member of the Expedition 69 crew to the International Space Station (ISS), he left Earth on September 21, 2022 on a Russian Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft.

Dr Rubio and his crewmates – Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin – were supposed to return to Earth after six months on the space station.

However, after their Soyuz capsule sprang a coolant leak, it was ‘no longer safe to return a crew to Earth’.

In February, Russia sent a ‘rescue’ Soyuz and Prokopyev, Petelin and Dr Rubio’s stay was extended another six months.

‘Frank thought when he flew to space he would be here for six months,’ said Nasa astronaut Warren ‘Woody’ Hoburg, at a press conference. ‘And partway through his mission, he found out that it was extended to a year

‘His leadership up here has been incredible. He’s been amazing to work with and Frank is just making a huge sacrifice being away from his family for so long.’

In a recent interview with ABC’s Good Morning America, Dr Rubio said: ‘It’s an honour to be able to be considered one of the people that’s going to have spent a year in space.

‘I think this [duration] is really significant, in the sense that it teaches us that the human body can endure, it can adapt and – as we prepare to push back to the moon and then from there – onward onto hopefully Mars and further on into the solar system.

‘And for sure, this record will soon be broken again.’

Only six people have spent more than a year in space, and three of them were Russian cosmonauts.

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