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A Year in Space


On September 27, 2023, Frank Rubio broke the record for the longest U.S. spaceflight. When he returned to Earth, his first meal was a salad. “What most of us crave when we get back is fresh food,” he told TIME. That’s the meal he wanted most while at the International Space Station (see “International Platform”).

Rubio’s record-breaking 371-day mission was unexpected. It was supposed to be 180 days, but a coolant coolant a fluid that keeps machines from overheating (noun) We added coolant so our car wouldn't overheat in the summer. leak on the craft that was supposed to bring him home delayed his return by six months.

Nearly four months after coming back to Earth, Rubio answered questions about his out-of-this-world experience.

WELCOME HOME Rubio is helped out of the craft that brought him back, on September 27, 2023.


What does a typical day look like in space?

We conduct tons of experiments. I think there were more than 300 experiments that our crew was a part of while I was up there. Also, [we] have to put in a lot of time and effort toward maintaining our own bodies. Personally, I enjoy exercise, so time spent exercising also helps with my psychological psychological mental; having to do with the mind (adjective) The coach taught us to care for our physical and psychological health. health. And then you spend a fair amount of time performing maintenance [on the station]. Every once in a while, you get to do some really cool things, like a spacewalk. Every day is incredibly busy.

SPACEWALK Rubio takes a spacewalk outside the ISS, on November 15, 2022.


What has readjusting to life on Earth been like?

You adapt quickly to being in space, but the readaptation process back to Earth can be longer and more difficult. Gravity and the forces at play here have a stronger effect on your body. It takes two to three months to get yourself back to where you were preflight. I’m feeling pretty normal. At this point, I feel like I’m back to 90 to 95%.

WEIGHTLESS Frank Rubio watches a hovering water bubble aboard the ISS on October 1, 2022.


Was it hard to be away from family for a long time?

By far, the biggest challenge is being away from family, but you’re able to call [Earth] anytime you want. And at least once or twice a week, you can do a video conference. While you’re up there, you tend to miss your loved ones quite a bit. Those video conferences really helped.

SPACE CUT Rubio gives fellow astronaut Sultan AlNeyadi a haircut on March 18, 2021. The trimmer sucks up loose hair so it doesn’t float around the ISS.


What was your most memorable moment?

That’s a tough one. Launch was fantastic, it was everything I thought it was going to be. And then you get to space, and you see the Earth for the first time. And then you go out and do a spacewalk. The engineering that has gone into keeping you alive in a small space suit is incredible. Just the fact that you’re able to live in space for a full year is mind-blowing. And then, at the end of it, you become a meteorite [as you] reenter the Earth’s atmosphere. The fact that people were able to get that exactly right is pretty special. So I’d say the whole year was full of incredible, once-in-a-lifetime experiences.

GARDENING Rubio checks the progress of the tomato plants on October 14, 2022.


Are you interested in going back?

I absolutely want to go back. I don’t know if I would want to break the record again, but I hope to be a part of human spaceflight for a bit longer. I really do believe in the mission. I think what we do for the benefit of humanity is incredible. If I’m able to go back, great; if I’m not, hopefully I can be a part of the team and help [get] somebody else back to the moon, and then onward from there.

International Platform


The International Space Station, or ISS, is a football-field-size platform that orbits Earth from nearly 250 miles away. It has been in orbit for 25 years, and more than 270 astronauts from different countries have visited. While aboard the ISS, crew members conduct and check the progress of science and technology experiments. These experiments might one day help us travel farther into space, for longer periods of time.