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Astronaut Frank Rubio Sets Record for Longest Space Mission by U.S. Astronaut

And he's setting a new record every day!

By Cassidy Ward

In SYFY’s The Ark (streaming now on Peacock), humanity sets out on its first interstellar voyage, hoping to find a new home on another world. Accomplishing a mission like that would require significant advancements in propulsion technology and a whole lot of patience. Even at a significant portion of the speed of light, a trip to the nearest star would take years. Which is why the crew of Ark One uses stasis pods to nap their way to Proxima centauri. That is, until the ship meets disaster mid-journey.

How to Watch

Catch up on The Ark on Peacock or the SYFY app.

In the real world, just getting to Mars and back would take a couple of years at best, meaning our astronauts need to learn to live in space for extended periods of time. Well, we're getting there: On Monday, September 11, NASA astronaut Frank Rubio broke the standing record for the most consecutive time in space by a U.S. astronaut.

Astronaut Frank Rubio Sets New U.S. Record for Longest Spaceflight

Getting to the Moon is hard enough, but getting somewhere like Mars has a greater level of difficulty. While the Moon stays close by, orbiting our planet, the Earth and Mars are both orbiting the Sun along their own distinct paths. Sometimes, both planets are relatively near one another on the same side of the Sun. Other times they are much farther apart. Getting to Mars means chasing a moving target and it’s the same challenge getting home. The estimated duration of a roundtrip Mars mission is something like two years, including ground operations and transit time.

RELATED: NASA Is Launching a Year-Long Simulated Mars Mission

NASA astronaut Frank Rubio floats inside the International Space Station's cupola.

Given the renewed interest in getting to Mars, and in establishing a continued presence on the Moon, NASA, as well as other space agencies and private companies, have a vested interest in figuring out how to keep human crewmembers alive in space for years at a time. Part of NASA’s strategy involves extended missions in low-Earth orbit where we can study at least some of the effects of a long-term stay in space.

RELATED: Humans Could Someday Be Living Underground on Mars

The previous record for the U.S. astronaut with the most consecutive days in space was held by Mark Vande Hei. He launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome during Expedition 65/66 on April 9, 2021. He remained on-station until March 30, 2022, clocking 355 days in orbit. Rubio also launched from Baikonur alongside cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin on September 21, 2022. As of September 11, Rubio surpassed Vande Hei’s record, and he continues to set a new record with every additional day aboard the station.

Vande Hei called Rubio aboard the ISS to congratulate him on breaking the record and becoming the U.S. astronaut with the longest consecutive time spent in space. When Rubio lands back on Earth on September 27, the record will stand at 371 days. However, if a U.S. astronaut wants to crack the global record, we’re going to need to stay in space a couple of more months. The record for the most consecutive time spent in space by any individual is held by the late Russian cosmonaut Valery Polyakov. He spent 437 days in space between January 1994 and March 1995.

Experience the long, slow trip to Proxima centauri in The Ark, streaming now on Peacock.