A NASA astronaut now holds the record for the longest U.S. spaceflight after returning to Earth Wednesday, but the feat did not come voluntarily.
American Frank Rubio and two Russian cosmonauts were stuck in space for just over a year. They landed on a remote part of Kazakhstan in a Soyuz that had been rushed to replace their previous ride, which was damaged by debris and ran out of coolant when docked with the International Space Station.
The mission that was supposed to be 180 days long turned into 371 days, which meant Rubio spent more than two weeks longer in space than Mark Vande Hei, who held NASA’s previous endurance record for a single spaceflight.
Just last week, Rubio said he would have declined his space mission had he known he would be in orbit so long.
“If I had been asked before starting training, since you train for a full year to two years prior to your mission, then probably, I would have declined,” Rubio said during a NASA Press Conference. “That’s only because of family things that were going on this past year.”
“Had I known that I had to miss those very important events, I just would have had to say ‘thank you, but no thank you,'” he added.
The replacement Soyuz capsule that brought Rubio and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin back was launched in February.
“It’s good to be home,” Rubio, a 47-year-old Army doctor and helicopter pilot, said after being pulled from the capsule.
Russia still holds the world record of 437 days, set in the mid-1990s.
Fox News’ Jon Michael Raasch and The Associated Press contributed to this report.