Astronaut ready for silence after record-breaking full year in space | ET REALITY


After spending a year listening to the constant hum of the complicated machinery that keeps the International Space Station habitable, astronaut Frank Rubio hopes for some silence on Earth.

Rubio is scheduled to return to Earth next week after a 371-day mission, the longest space flight by an American astronaut.

On September 11 he surpassed the previous record for the longest continuous space flight by an American, and on Thursday he will complete a full year in space. In a press conference On Tuesday, Rubio spoke by video from the International Space Station about what he was most looking forward to when he returned home on Sept. 27: his family, fresh food and silence.

“For me, honestly, obviously, hugging my wife and kids is going to be paramount, and I’ll probably focus on that for the first few days,” Rubio said as he swayed gently in microgravity.

He said he was also looking forward to returning to his quiet backyard and “enjoying the trees and the silence.”

His return home will be even sweeter because when Rubio launched on the Russian Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan last September, he expected to return home in six months, not a year.

Those plans changed after a coolant leak was detected on the Soyuz spacecraft in December. The leak could have created potentially fatal temperatures for the crew on their return to Earth, so a different spacecraft was sent to the space station, forcing Mr. Rubio’s return trip to be delayed.

Rubio said that if he had been asked to do a one-year mission before training began, he would have turned it down because of his family. But, he said, if NASA had asked him to make such a trip during his two years of training, he would have accepted because it was his job.

He acknowledged that a year in space, away from loved ones, had taken a psychological toll on him and said it was important to stay mentally strong because of the “very unforgiving environment” of the space station.

“One thing I’ve tried to do, and I hope I’ve accomplished it (I certainly haven’t done it perfectly), is just stay positive and stable throughout the mission despite the internal ups and downs,” Rubio said. . “You try to just focus on the job and the mission and stick with it, because ultimately every day you have to show up and do the job.”

Before Rubio’s mission, Mark Vande Hei, who returned to Earth in March 2022 after 355 days aboard the International Space Station, held the record for the longest continuous space flight by an American. Dr. Valery Polyakov, a Russian astronaut who died last year, holds the world record for consecutive days in space: 437.

Aboard the space station, Rubio worked on a series of science projectsincluding research on how bacteria adapt to space flight and how exercise affects humans during long missions.

In a previous interview At NASA, Rubio said one of his favorite projects was studying a tomato plant to see how air- and water-based growing techniques affect the plants. The research could help find ways to farm on a larger scale in space.

“I love working with that little plant and watching it grow and develop,” she said.

At Tuesday’s press conference, Rubio talked about the camaraderie aboard the space station. During his time there, he has had 28 crewmates, including his friend Loral O’Haraa fellow NASA astronaut who arrived at the space station last week.

Rubio said that when people first arrive at the space station, those already on board help teach them basic tasks, such as how to use the bathroom, how to prepare food and how to sleep.

“All the little things that are taken for granted on Earth, you have to learn them again up here,” Rubio said.

Before joining the space program, Mr. Rubio served in the US Army. and attended medical school. He flew more than 1,100 hours as a helicopter pilot, which included deployments to Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. He was born in Los Angeles, but considers Miami his hometown.

On his first day in space, Rubio said he felt sick as his body acclimated to life in space. Now, he is preparing to get his muscles and bones used to standing and bearing weight again. He estimated it would be two to six months before he felt normal.

“This is my first mission,” he said, “I just don’t know how my body is going to react.”

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