Miami native among those heading to space station on Soyuz rocket

Miami native and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio taking part in 6-month research expedition

The service structure is raised into position around the Soyuz rocket, Sunday, Sept. 18, 2022, at site 31 of the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Expedition 68 astronaut Frank Rubio of NASA, and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin of Roscosmos are scheduled to launch aboard their Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft on Sept. 21. (NASA/Victor Zelentsov, (NASA/Victor Zelentsov)\r\rFor copyright and restrictions refer to -�http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/guidelines/index.html)

A NASA astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts launched Wednesday morning to the International Space Station from Kazakhstan.

Miami native and NASA astronaut Frank Rubio, 46, along with Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin are embarking on a six-month research expedition at the ISS, WKMG in Orlando reported.

Expedition 68 astronaut Frank Rubio of NASA, left, and cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin of Roscosmos, right, are seen in quarantine, behind glass, during a press conference, Tuesday, Sept. 20, 2022, at the Cosmonaut Hotel in Baikonur, Kazakhstan. The trio are scheduled to launch to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz MS-22 spacecraft on Sept. 21. ((NASA/Bill Ingalls)\r\rFor copyright and restrictions refer to -�http://www.nasa.gov/multimedia/guidelines/index.html)

Liftoff at the Baikonur Cosmodrome occurred at 9:54 a.m. EDT. After a roughly three-hour flight, the trio is expected to climb through the hatch of the space station at 3:30 p.m. Wednesday.

The mission is Rubio’s first trip to space after becoming a NASA astronaut in 2017. The mission also marks the first flight of a U.S. crew member on a Russian spacecraft since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine.

Rubio, who graduated from Miami Sunset Senior High School before earning a bachelor’s degree in International Relations from the United States Military Academy at West Point, is filling the Soyuz spacecraft seat as part of a swap agreement between NASA and Roscosmos. Under the deal, U.S. astronauts can ride Russian spacecraft and cosmonauts can join U.S. crewed launches free of charge.

Rubio is now the first Salvadoran-American to ever go to space. He will also go to the moon in 2024 as part of the Artemis program.

On Oct. 3, Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina is scheduled launch to the ISS on a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft from Kennedy Space Center. The mission, called Crew-5, will also consist of two NASA crewmates and a Japanese astronaut.

NASA astronauts routinely launched on Russian Soyuz rockets — for tens of millions of dollars apiece — until SpaceX started flying station crews from the Space Coast in 2020.


About the Authors:

Katrina Scales joined News 6 as a TV producer in June 2021.

Amanda Batchelor is the Digital Executive Producer for Local10.com.