The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.
World

NASA astronaut returns to Earth, sets record for longest U.S. spaceflight

In a remarkable space journey, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, alongside two Russian cosmonauts, has returned to Earth after an unexpected and extended stay in space. Their return marks a significant achievement, with Frank Rubio setting a new U.S. record for the longest spaceflight. The trio safely touched down in a remote region of Kazakhstan, thanks to a Soyuz capsule that was rapidly launched as a replacement. This hasty replacement became necessary after their original spacecraft suffered damage from space debris, leading to the loss of its coolant supply while docked to the International Space Station. Originally intended as a 180-day mission, their stay in space stretched to a surprising 371 days. Frank Rubio’s tenure in space exceeded that of NASA’s previous record-holder, Mark Vande Hei, by over two weeks. However, it’s essential to note that Russia still holds the world record for the longest spaceflight, which stands at an impressive 437 days, a feat achieved in the mid1990s. The Soyuz capsule that brought Rubio and his fellow cosmonauts, Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin, back to Earth was launched in February as a replacement. Russian engineers suspect that a fragment of space debris punctured the radiator of their original capsule, jeopardizing the safety of both the capsule’s electronics and its occupants. As a precautionary measure, the damaged capsule was sent back to Earth without any crew members on board. The absence of another Soyuz spacecraft for a fresh crew launch meant that their replacements arrived only recently, nearly two weeks ago. Andreas Mogensen, the space station’s new commander from Denmark, expressed his relief, saying, “No one deserves to go home to their families more than you.” Throughout their descent, Sergey Prokopyev assured ground controllers that all three astronauts were in good health. The descent itself subjected them to more than four times the force of gravity, causing the capsule to touch down on its side in the barren Kazakh steppes. After being safely extracted from the capsule, Frank Rubio, 47, an Army doctor and helicopter pilot, expressed his gratitude, saying, “It’s good to be home.” In a news conference held last week, Rubio admitted that he would not have initially agreed to a full year in space. During his extended mission, he missed important family milestones, including his eldest child’s first year at the US Naval Academy and another child heading to West Point. Rubio also revealed that the psychological challenge of such a lengthy space journey was more taxing than he had anticipated. As of now, NASA has no immediate plans for more yearlong missions, leaving Frank Rubio’s record-setting achievement to stand as a testament to human endurance and exploration. This extraordinary journey saw the trio travel an astonishing 157 million miles (253 million kilometers) since their launch from Kazakhstan in September, circling the world nearly 6,000 times. S. Raqib

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The Kabul times, Afghanistan Trustable News Agency.