REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama – U.S. Army astronaut Lt. Col. Frank Rubio, MD, is scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, aboard a Soyuz (Union) MS- 22 September 21, 9:54 a.m. EDT for a 6 month mission aboard the International Space Station.
Rubio, an active duty army physician and NASA astronaut, will launch to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz MS-22 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, as a flight engineer and member of the NASA Expedition 68. Rubio will launch with Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin.
Like his immediate predecessors, Army Astronauts Col. Andrew Morgan and Lt. Col. Anne McClain, Rubio would participate in numerous scientific and engineering experiments, maintenance of space stations, extravehicular activities/walks in the space, environmental and earth observation tasks and public engagement. events.
Rubio was one of 10 applicants selected out of 18,300 by NASA for the 2017 Astronaut Candidate Class. Prior to being selected, he served as Battalion Surgeon, 3rd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Ft. Carson, Colo.
Prior to earning his medical degree from Uniformed Services Health Sciences University, Rubio served as a UH-60 Blackhawk pilot logging more than 1,100 hours, including 600 hours of combat and imminent danger time in Bosnia, Afghanistan and Iraq. He graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point, class of 98, with a bachelor’s degree in international relations.
Rubio will be the first American astronaut to launch aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft since the recent agreement between NASA and ROSCOSMOS (July 2022) to take over the integrated crews aboard each other’s spacecraft.
In its recent press release, NASA said, “Flying Integrated Crews ensure that there are properly trained crew members aboard the station for essential maintenance and spacewalks. It also protects against the unexpected…” Further, NASA added, “Embedded crews have been standard throughout the International Space Station program to maintain safe operation of the space station. The station was designed to be interdependent and relies on contributions from each space agency to operate.
The US military’s deep involvement in the country’s space program and its close collaboration with NASA dates back to the 1958 launch of Explorer 1, the first US satellite, and it’s a US military rocket which carried the first American astronaut into space. Over the years, 19 Army astronauts have been selected by NASA, 17 of whom fly aboard a space shuttle or Russian Soyuz spacecraft, most with a destination/mission to the International Space Station. Rubio will be the 18th to fly.
Media interested in the Sept. 21 launch are encouraged to follow NASA public affairs platforms and USASMDC social media for updates, images, and video. For more information about the Army Astronaut Detachment, contact USASMDC Public Affairs at [email protected] or (256) 955-3887.
NOTE TO ASSIGNMENT EDITORS:
The U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command – Public Affairs – is the Army’s PAO coordination element with NASA Public Affairs for Army Astronauts – as it relates specifically to their status of active duty soldiers with the Army NASA Detachment. General media inquiries regarding NASA astronauts, including Army astronauts, and the International Space Station should be directed to the Johnson Space Center – Office of Public Affairs Newsroom at (281) 483-5111. To follow the launch of LTC Rubio and the ISS mission, USASMDC recommends the following resources on social media and web pages:
Official NASA biography of Lt. Col. Rubio
NASA (including NASA TV for live video of the July 20 launch)
NASA Expedition 68 Flickr
High resolution NASA images courtesy of Lt. Col. Frank Rubio