BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (AP) — A Russian-American crew arrived at the International Space Station on Friday, five months after a botched launch led to an emergency landing for two of the three astronauts.
Five months after being forced to abort his first launch to space, @AstroHague is now where he’s destined to be: aboard the @Space_Station. During his 6.5 month mission, he will perform the first spacewalk of his career, conduct experiments & more. Watch: https://t.co/ZuxLDtzW9c pic.twitter.com/lNcVe101M6
— NASA (@NASA) March 15, 2019
This time, the Russian Soyuz rocket carrying NASA astronauts Nick Hague of Hoxie, Kansas and Christina Koch along with Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin lifted off precisely as planned from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 12:14 a.m. Friday (1914 GMT Thursday).
Six hours later, their capsule docked at the orbiting outpost.
On Oct. 11, a Soyuz carrying Hague and Ovchinin failed two minutes into flight, activating a rescue system that allowed their capsule to land safely. That accident was the first aborted crew launch for the Russian space program since 1983, when two Soviet cosmonauts safely jettisoned after a launch pad explosion.
On Friday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine congratulated the crew on a successful launch. “So proud of Nick Hague for persevering through last October’s launch that didn’t go as planned,” he tweeted.
Speaking at a pre-launch news conference at Baikonur, the astronauts said they trusted the rocket and fully believed in the success of their mission.
“I’m 100 percent confident in the rocket and the spacecraft,” Hague said. “The events from October only helped to solidify that and boost confidence in the vehicle to do its job.”
The trio will join NASA’s Anne McClain, Roscosmos’ Oleg Kononenko and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency who are already on the space station. They will conduct work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science.
When one of the four strap-on boosters for their Soyuz failed to separate properly two minutes after their launch in October, Hague and Ovchinin were jettisoned from the rocket. Their rescue capsule plunged steeply back to Earth with its lights flashing and alarms screaming, subjecting the crew to seven times the force of gravity.
Hague emphasized Wednesday that they were well-trained for the emergency.
“The nature of our profession is we spend 90-95 percent of our time practicing what to do when things go wrong,” he said. “And so we spend all that time training, running through all those scenarios. And because we do train that way, like in October when things like that happened, we were ready to do what we need to do to come out successfully.”
The October failure was the first aborted launch for the Russian space program in 35 years and only the third in history. Each time, the rocket’s automatic rescue system kept the crew safe.
A Russian investigation attributed October’s launch failure to a sensor that was damaged during the rocket’s final assembly. The next crew launch to the space station in December went on without a hitch.
Ovchinin recalled that they felt “more annoyed than stressed” when their rescue capsule touched down in the barren steppes of Kazakhstan. “It was disappointing and a bit frustrating that we didn’t make it to the International Space Station,” he said.
NASA and Roscosmos praised the crew’s valor and composure in the aborted launch and promised to quickly give them a second chance into space.
“We don’t accept the risk blindly, we have mitigated it as much as we can, and we always plan to be successful,” Hague said.
Ovchinin stressed that the aborted launch in October was an “interesting and very useful experience” that “proved the reliability of the emergency rescue system.”
.@AstroHague, @Astro_Christina, Alexey Ovchinin joined @AstroAnnimal, Oleg Kononenko, and @Astro_DavidS aboard the station when the hatch officially opened at 11:07pm ET. https://t.co/c6U1uRUAHt pic.twitter.com/ZDuqKAHyzC
— Intl. Space Station (@Space_Station) March 15, 2019
Since the 2011 retirement of the U.S. shuttle fleet, Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft have been the only vehicles that ferry crews to the space station.
NASA, however, is counting on SpaceX and Boeing to start launching astronauts later this year. The SpaceX ship Dragon returned Friday from a six-day test flight to the space station and could take astronauts there on its next flight as early as this summer.
BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan (AP) — A Russian-American crew of three has blasted off to the International Space Station, making a second attempt to reach the outpost after October’s aborted launch.
A Russian Soyuz rocket carrying NASA astronauts including Hoxie, Kansas native Nick Hague and Christina Koch along with Roscosmos’ Alexei Ovchinin lifted off as planned from the Baikonur cosmodrome at 1:14 p.m. CDT Thursday (in Kazakhstan at 12:14 a.m. Friday)
Their Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft reached a designated orbit about nine minutes after the launch, and the crew reported they were feeling fine and all systems on board were operating normally. They are set to dock at the space station in about six hours.
On Oct. 11, a Soyuz that Hague and Ovchinin were riding in failed two minutes into its flight, activating a rescue system that allowed their capsule to land safely. That accident was the first aborted crew launch for the Russian space program since 1983, when two Soviet cosmonauts safely jettisoned after a launch pad explosion.
Speaking at a pre-launch news conference at Baikonur, the crew said they trust the rocket and fully believe in the success of their mission.
“I’m 100 percent confident in the rocket and the spacecraft deliver us to the space station and bring us home safely,” Hague said. “The events from October only helped to solidify that and boost confidence in the vehicle to do its job.”
The trio will join NASA’s Anne McClain, Roscosmos’ Oleg Kononenko and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency who are currently on the space station. They will conduct work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science.
Hoxie, Kansas native Nick Hague is set for another attempt to reach the International Space Station Thursday afternoon. He and a fellow cosmonauts were forced to abort a launch in October.
According to a media release from NASA, two American astronauts including Hague and a Russian cosmonaut are set to join the crew aboard the International Space Station on Thursday.
NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, are set to launch aboard the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft at 2:14 p.m. CDT (12:14 a.m. March 15 Kazakhstan time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a six-hour journey to the station.
Live coverage will air on NASA Television and the agency’s website.
The trio’s arrival will return the orbiting laboratory’s population to six, including three NASA astronauts. This launch will also mark the fourth Expedition crew with two female astronauts.
The new crew members will dock to the Rassvet module at 8:07 p.m. Expedition 59 will begin officially at the time of docking.
About two hours later, hatches between the Soyuz and the station will open and the new residents will be greeted by NASA astronaut Anne McClain, station commander Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency. The current three-person crew just welcomed the first American commercial crew vehicle as it docked to the station on March 3, amidst a busy schedule of scientific research and operations since arriving in December.
The crew members of Expeditions 59 and 60 will continue work on hundreds of experiments in biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard the humanity’s only permanently occupied microgravity laboratory.
McClain, Saint-Jacques, Hague and Koch also are all scheduled for the first spacewalks of their careers to continue upgrades to the orbital laboratory. McClain and Hague are scheduled to begin work to upgrade the power system March 22, and McClain and Koch will complete the upgrades to two station power channels during a March 29 spacewalk. This will be the first-ever spacewalk with all-female spacewalkers. Hague and Saint-Jacques will install hardware for a future science platform during an April 8 spacewalk.
Hague and Ovchinin are completing a journey that was cut short Oct. 11, when a booster separation problem with their Soyuz rocket’s first stage triggered a launch abort two minutes into the flight. They landed safely a few minutes later, after reaching the fringes of space, and were reassigned to fly again after McClain, Kononenko and Saint-Jacques launched in early December. This will be Ovchinin’s third flight into space, the second for Hague and the first for Koch. Hague, Koch, and McClain are from NASA’s 2013 astronaut class, half of which were women—the highest percentage of female astronaut candidates ever selected for a class.