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Astronaut Kate Rubins Tells Us What It's Like to Live in Space

She just got back from 115 days on the International Space Station.
NASA Astronaut Kate Rubins sequenced DNA in space for the first time ever for the Biomolecule Sequencer investigation, using the MinION sequencing device. Image: NASA

On October 29, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins safely returned to Earth along with the rest of the Expedition 49 crew, after living in space for 115 days. Rubins logged a busy few months aboard the International Space Station, performing two separate spacewalks and becoming the first person to sequence DNA in microgravity. This is huge, because it will give scientists the ability to investigate the microbial communities that also call the ISS home.

"It's a big leap forward," Rubins told Motherboard's own Becky Ferreira in an interview, less than a week after touching down on Earth. "We were trying to understand, could we do this in space? We honestly didn't know." For Rubins, these are big questions: She has a doctorate in molecular biology and used to lead a lab studying viruses like Ebola.

It was a big week for the ISS, which celebrated its 16 th anniversary on November 2—meaning that humans have now lived in space continuously for 16 years. "Anyone less than 16 years old has never been alive when we haven't had humans in space," Rubins told Motherboard, "which is pretty incredible."

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