REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama – U.S. Army Astronaut Lt. Col. Frank Rubio, M.D., is scheduled to launch from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, aboard a Soyuz (Union) MS-22 spacecraft Sept. 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 Soyuz MS-22 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan, as a flight engineer and member of NASA Expedition 68. Rubio will launch with Russian cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitry Petelin.
Like his immediate Army astronaut predecessors, Col. Andrew Morgan and Lt. Col. Anne McClain, Rubio will participate in numerous scientific and technical experiments, space-station maintenance, Extra Vehicular Activities/Space Walks, Environmental and Earth observation tasks, and Public Engagement events.
Rubio was one of 10 selected out of 18,300 applicants by NASA for the 2017 Astronaut Candidate class. Prior to selection he served as the Battalion Surgeon, 3rd Battalion, 10th Special Forces Group (Airborne) at Fort Carson, Colorado.
Prior to receiving his medical degree through the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences, Rubio served as a UH-60 Blackhawk pilot accumulating more the 1,100 hours including 600 hours of combat and imminent danger time in Bosnia, Afghanistan, and Iraq. He graduated from the U.S. 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 NASA and ROSCOSMOS’ recent (July 2022) agreement to resume integrated crews aboard each other’s spacecraft.
In their recent news release, NASA stated “Flying integrated crews ensures there are appropriately trained crew members on board the station for essential maintenance and spacewalks. It also protects against contingencies…” Further, NASA added “Integrated crews have been the norm throughout the International Space Station Program in order to maintain safe operation of the space station. The station was designed to be interdependent and relies on contributions from each space agency to function.
The U.S. Army’s deep involvement in the nation’s space program and close work with NASA dates back to the launch in 1958 of Explorer 1, the United States’ first satellite, and it was a U.S. Army rocket that carried the first U.S. astronaut into space. Over the years, 19 Army astronauts have been selected by NASA with 17 of those flying aboard either 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 September 21 launch are advised 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 firstname.lastname@example.org or (256) 955-3887.
NOTE TO ASSIGNMENT EDITORS:
U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command - Public Affairs - is the designated Army PAO coordination element with NASA Public Affairs for Army Astronauts – as it specifically relates to their status as active duty Soldiers with the Army NASA Detachment. General media inquiries about NASA astronauts, including Army astronauts, and the International Space Station should be made to the Johnson Space Center - Office of Public Affairs Newsroom at (281) 483-5111. To follow LTC Rubio’s launch and ISS mission, USASMDC recommends the following social media and webpage resources:
Lt. Col. Rubio’s official NASA bio
NASA (Including NASA TV for live video of the launch July 20)
NASA Expedition 68 Flickr
High-Resolution NASA Courtesy Images of Lt. Col. Frank Rubio