TAMPA, Fla. (WFLA) — NASA astronaut Frank Rubio achieved the longest continuous American spaceflight on Monday, but he’s not done setting records yet.
Rubio, a flight engineer for the 69th Expedition to the International Space Station, has surpassed the 355-day record set by astronaut Mark Vande Hei in March 2022.
The Florida native is also gearing up to become the first American to spend over a year in space. He will have racked up 371 continuous days on the ISS by the time he returns to Earth on Sept. 27. Vande Hei called Rubio to congratulate him on his achievement, NASA wrote in a blog post.
Rubio discussed the record-breaking spaceflight in an interview last month, saying it was an honor to be considered among his record-holding colleagues, but he’s also looking forward to seeing future astronauts surpass the record.
“For sure, this record will soon be broken again,” Rubio told Good Morning America. “And that’s great, because that means we’re continuing to press forward.”
Rubio, a board-certified physician and flight surgeon, said he noted some changes in his body while in space. He grew about three centimeters due to the lack of gravity, which also caused fluids to accumulate in his face and upper body, instead of in his legs. The temporary changes will gradually reverse themselves after he returns to Earth.
“I think this is really significant in the fact that it teaches us that the human body can endure, it can adapt, as we prepare to push back to the moon, and then onward onto, hopefully, Mars and further on in the solar system,” Rubio said. “I think it’s really important that we learn just how the human body learns to adapt, and how we can optimize this process, so we can improve our performance as we explore further and further out from Earth.”
This spaceflight, Rubio’s first, was originally slated to last six months, but technical issues extended the flight to over a year. He has been in space since Sept. 21, 2022