Returning back to Earth on September 27, 2023, Frank Rubio became the first American astronaut to live on the International Space Station for more than a year. He arrived at the ISS with Russian astronauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin on September 21, 2022 and their mission was originally scheduled to arrive back to Earth on March 28, 2023, but their flight home was unfortunately delayed for another 6 months.
Frank Rubio was born in Los Angeles, California, but spent most of his childhood in Miami, Florida. He earned his bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the United States Military Academy at West Point, New York. He then went on to earn his Doctorate of Medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in Bethesda, Maryland. Before being selected to become an astronaut in 2017, Rubio served 600 hours of combat as a UH-60 Blackhawk helicopter pilot in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He is now married to Deborah Rubio and has four children.
Rubio’s return was extended twice as long as originally planned due to their return spacecraft being hit by either a meteor or space debris in December 2022. This caused an uncontrollable radiator leak, thus rendering the spacecraft unfixable. A new spacecraft was then sent up which Rubio and his crewmates used to land in Kazakhstan about a week ago. In total, Rubio completed about 5,963 orbits around the Earth, equating to about 157.4 million miles traveled, in his 371 days at the International Space Station.
Frank Rubio’s mission is highly useful, not only in the work and experimentation he completed while on the ISS, but also in studying what prolonged time in space does to the human body. Potential side effects of space travel are muscle degeneration, bone loss, reduced eyesight, impaired balance, or even a change in the shape of the brain. Rubio’s experience will give researchers valuable insight as he adjusts back to life on Earth. He predicts it will take him two to six months to feel completely normal again.
Space exploration is the next frontier – we must begin conducting research and experiments in order to gain further understanding and knowledge. It is still fairly unknown what effects a long-term space mission would have on a human, thus making Rubio’s mission critical to gaining insight. Scientists have also started discussing potential missions to Mars which would extend much further than 371 days. As we continue to deepen our comprehension of this universe, it will be fascinating to see where the next mission takes us.
KEIRA MEI HARRELL
My name is Keira Mei, I’m an 11th grader at City this year. I went to John Ball Zoo School in 6th grade and have been going to City ever since. I play the cello and also enjoy playing piano in my free time.