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Dr. Frank Rubio Will Be NASA’s First Salvadoran-American Astronaut To Go to Space

As if NASA were celebrating Latinx Heritage Month in their own way, an astronaut from the agency named Dr. Frank Rubio just became the first Salvadoran-American to go to space.

The spacecraft officially lifted off on the morning of September 21, and Rubio will be spending six months in outer space alongside Russian cosmonauts Dmitri Petelin and Sergey Prokopyev, reports News Channel Nebraska.

During his first trip to space, Rubio will be working as the flight engineer on a mission known as Expedition 68, aboard a spacecraft called the Soyuz MS-22, reports UPI News. Rubio’s participation in the mission follows his career as a family physician as well as a flight surgeon for the United States Army.

Rubio earned his Doctorate of Medicine from the Uniformed Services University of the Health Sciences after graduating from the US Military Academy. He has also seen hundreds of hours of combat and worked as a pilot in the army, but despite his impressive resume, he almost didn’t make it to Space.

The mission was almost canceled as a result of the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, which started in February 2022. The conflict between the United States and Russia reached a head when President Biden began imposing heavy economic sanctions on the country.

“I think it’s important that, when we’re at moments of possible tension elsewhere, human spaceflight and exploration, something that both agencies are incredibly passionate about, remains a form of diplomacy and partnership where we can find common ground and keep achieving great things together,” Rubio said to Space News.

He continued assuring the source that he wasn’t worried about the status of the mission and noting that he was confident it would happen. 

“At the same time, there was the confidence of knowing that if it happened, we would be ready, and if it didn’t, there were going to be other opportunities.” Rubio was right to be optimistic because Exploration 68 is already making its way to the ISS from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome.

According to ABC 7, Salvadorans make up the second-most popular Latino group in California, where Rubio was born, although he was raised in Florida.

As Latinx Heritage Month continues, Latinos all over the world are looking for people like Rubio to look up to. Rubio was one of 10 people chosen out of more than 18,000 applicants and will help inspire a generation of Latinos who want to pursue a career in aeronautics.

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