Astronaut Frank Rubio, who recently completed a year-long stay aboard the International Space Station (ISS), has revealed that he almost turned down the opportunity due to family commitments. Rubio, along with his Soyuz crewmates Sergei Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, was originally scheduled for a six-month mission. However, their stay was extended to a full year after their spacecraft was damaged by a suspected micrometeoroid last December.
Rubio’s decision to accept the mission extension was not without sacrifice. The astronaut and his crewmates missed important family milestones, including their daughter’s first year at the U.S. Naval Academy and their son’s freshman year at West Point. However, Rubio believes that these sacrifices were necessary to ensure the success of the mission and the continuous occupation of the ISS, which has been ongoing for the past 23 years.
The crew is set to return to Earth on September 27, marking the end of their 371-day mission. This will make it the third longest flight in space history, and the longest ever for a U.S. astronaut. Rubio is eagerly anticipating reuniting with his wife and children and enjoying the tranquility of his backyard after being surrounded by machinery and noise on the ISS.
However, the re-entry process is not without its challenges. After a year in weightlessness, it is expected to take several months for the crew to readapt to gravity and regain their strength. Rubio specifically mentions that the vestibular system, which controls balance and spatial orientation, will likely be particularly affected. Nonetheless, the astronaut is optimistic that he will start feeling normal again within two to six months after returning to Earth.
Rubio’s successful year-long mission serves as a testament to the dedication and commitment of astronauts in pushing the boundaries of space exploration. Their sacrifices ensure the continued advancement of scientific knowledge and the exploration of outer space. As the ISS continues to serve as a valuable platform for scientific research, Rubio’s mission serves as an inspiration for future space missions and the pursuit of new horizons.
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