Three astronauts accidentally ended up circling the Earth 6,000 times after a six-month mission had to be extended.
Yes, in what sounds like a rather unfortunate turn of events, a seemingly straight-forward mission to the International Space Station ended up taking a year instead.
The astronauts believe it happened after the original return shuttle was damaged by space debris, losing all of its coolant.
The group – made up of American Frank Rubio and two Russian cosmonauts, Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin – were docked to the International Space Station at the time.
Coolant is essential. Without it, the capsule’s electronics and occupants could overheat to dangerous levels.
While waiting for a replacement capsule to be sent up from Earth, the astronauts ended up going around the world 5,936 times.
That works out to travelling more than 157 million miles – so the equivalent of 328 trips to the Moon and back.
Once the return capsule reached them two weeks’ ago, the group experienced more than four times the force of gravity as their capsule was zooming through the atmosphere.
They ended up touching down in remote Kazakhstan – where Russia runs its space programme – in a replacement shuttle, on Wednesday.
They were then taken to the city of Karaganda where Rubio will be able to fly back to Houston in the US.
The events meant Rubio broke the US record for the longest time in space, spending 371 days going around the Earth – two weeks longer than NASA’s previous endurance record for a single spaceflight with Mark Vande Hei.
The world record is 437 days, set by the Russians back in the 90s.
After landing, Rubio said it was “good to be home,” and acknowledged he had missed key milestones like his daughter finishing her first year of military training.
Rubio also said the psychological elements of spending that amount of time in space were tougher than anticipated.
NASA administrator Bill Nelson described Rubio’s record-breaking time in space as “a major contribution to our understanding of long-duration space missions”.
He added that astronauts “make extraordinary sacrifices away from their homes and loved ones”, and that NASA was “immensely grateful” to Rubio.
“He embodied the true pioneer spirit that will pave the way for future exploration to the Moon, Mars and beyond,” Nelson said.