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5 things you didn’t know about Frank Rubio, the Hispanic astronaut with the most hours on the ISS

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  • Frank Rubio considers himself lucky
  • He achieved record time on the ISS
  • He is of Salvadoran descent

Frank Rubio has become the NASA astronaut who has spent the longest time in space, a true pride of Hispanic heritage.

The astronaut of Salvadoran descent considers himself «lucky» for his record stay on the International Space Station (ISS).

On the ISS he has carried out several scientific investigations and celebrated some of the «best views» of his life, according to what he told Efe.

Rubio confessed that the extension of his time on the ISS for another six months was unexpected. Here we tell you 5 things you didn’t know about him.

1. He surpassed the record for staying in space

Frank Rubio, Hispanic astronaut, in space, space walk, MundoNOW

On Monday, September 11, Frank Rubio surpassed the mark of 355 consecutive days, three hours and 45 minutes spent in space.

The record for a NASA astronaut with the longest time in space was previously held by Mark Vande Hei.

But Valeri Polyakov, with 437 days aboard the Mir station between 1994 and 1995, holds the longest record of a human being in space.

If he completes his stay until September 27, then Rubio will have reached 371 consecutive days in space.

2. A leak keeps him in space

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Frank Rubio made his first space flight on September 21, 2022, when he flew to the ISS aboard the Russian Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft.

He traveled alongside cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, initially for a six-month mission aboard the station.

But in December 2022, Russian mission controllers determined that the spacecraft’s external cooling system was losing pressure.

Technicians confirmed an ammonia leak and decided that the capsule that remained docked to the ISS was no longer safe to return to Earth.

3. He has spearheaded groundbreaking research

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He has had the opportunity to be part of innovative research on the ISS, such as the cultivation of the first tomatoes grown in space.

As well as the first 3D printing of human tissue. «I consider myself pretty blessed by every experiment we’ve done here.»

He has led six studies aimed at understanding how spaceflight affects human physiology and psychology, according to NASA.

And he is the first astronaut to participate in a study examining how exercising with limited gym equipment affects the human body.

4. From pilot to doctor and then to astronaut

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Hispanic astronaut Frank Rubio/PHOTO: NASA

Frank Rubio was born in Los Angeles, California, but considers Miami his hometown.

He graduated from the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, in 1998 and earned a Doctor of Medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences in 2010.

Before attending medical school, he served as a helicopter pilot in the US Army and flew more than 1,100 hours, with deployments to Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq.

Dr. Rubio is a family physician and board-certified flight surgeon. He was selected by the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) to join the Class of 2017.

5. He is the son of a single Salvadoran mother

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Hispanic astronaut Frank Rubio/PHOTO: NASA

«I’m the son of a single mother, a teenage mother from El Salvador who worked all kinds of low-income jobs,» Frank Rubio told Time magazine in 2017.

For this reason, he considers that his life “is a great story about the United States. What are the chances of a kid like me ending up where I am today?»

He is currently 47 years old, married to Debora Rubio and has four children between 13 and 19 years old; From space he said that the support of his family has been fundamental.

And all to maintain a good mental attitude during his long stay in space, a time in which, he acknowledged, he has missed important moments in the lives of his children.

6. He is proud of his Hispanic heritage

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Frank Rubio / PHOTO: NASA

Rubio acknowledged the pride he feels in representing NASA and the Latino community, a reality that reflects the advantages that the US is increasingly diverse.

Rubio showed his confidence about what the new, increasingly diverse American generations will contribute: «The nation is going to be in good hands.»

As happened on the first leg, his return will coincide with the Hispanic Heritage Month in the United States, which is celebrated between September 15 and October 15.

Scheduled to return on September 27, when he completes 371 days in orbit, he will become the first American, and one of seven people, to have spent a year or more in space.

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