Frank Rubio becomes the first U.S. astronaut to spend one year in space.
Others have gotten close, but only four other people—all Russians—have ever reached the 365-day milestone. Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, two additional Russians, have been added to the list in addition to Rubio.
The trio arrived on Soyuz MS-22 last year and were forced to remain an additional six months after the spacecraft had a technical malfunction and had to be replaced, causing a modification in the crew rotation timetable.
He returned to Earth on September 27 with Prokopyev and Petelin.
Speaking to reporters, their extra days in space come as a surprise for the trio as their mission plan was to come home after six months. However, due to their spacecraft losing all its coolant, their mission had to be extended.
Soyuz MS-23, which was supposed to launch another crew, was sent up as an empty replacement. The other crew has to wait another six months to fly while Rubio and his crewmates are stuck on the ISS.
When asked whether he would have agreed to a year-long stay if he’d known in advance, Rubio would have agreed if he was already in training.
“If they had asked me up front before you start training, because you do train for a year or two years for your mission, I probably would have declined.
“I would have hurt, but I would have declined and that’s only because of family things that were going on this past year.
“And had I known that I would have had to miss those very important events, I just would have had to say thank you, but no thank you,” he said.
“But once you commit to the mission, once you’re part of the training and really all the assets and all that preparation that go into you, the mission kind of counts on you.
“So I think if I had found out before launch, but essentially well into the training cycle, I would have been committed to the mission because ultimately that’s our job.
“And we have to get the mission done. And you know, having the International Space Station going for 23 years requires a lot of individual and family sacrifices,” Rubio added.