BAIKONUR, Kazakhstan – A Russian-American crew arrived at the International Space Station Friday, five months after a botched launch, led to an emergency landing for two of the three astronauts
This time, the Russian Soyuz rocket carrying NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Hague, an Air Force colonel, along with Roscosmos' Alexei Ovchinin lifted off precisely as planned from the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 12:1
Six hours later, their capsule docked at the orbiting outpost
On Oct. 11, and Soyuz carrying Hague and Ovchinin failed two minutes into flight, activating a rescue system that allowed their capsule to land safely.
On Friday, NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine congratulated the crew on a successful launch. This was the first aborted crew launch for the Russian space program since 1983, when two Soviet cosmonauts safely jettisoned after a launch pad explosion. "Nick Hague's proud of persevering through last October's launch that did not go as planned," he tweeted
Hague, a flight test engineer, Iraq veteran and an astronaut since 2013, is assigned to the Air Force Space Command. His wife, Lt. Col. Mary Catie Hague, a public affairs officer and Iraq veteran, is the commander of the Air Force Reserve Officer's Training Corps Detachment 3 at the University of Houston.
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
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"I'm 100 percent confident in the rocket and the spacecraft," Hague said.
The trio will join NASA's Anne McClain, Roscosmos' Oleg Kononenko and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, who are already on on the space station.
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 caps plunged steeply back to Earth with its lights flashing and screaming alarms, subjecting the crew to seven times the force of gravity
Hague stressed Wednesday that they were well trained for the emergency. our profession is spending 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. "Soyuz-FG rocket booster with the Soyuz MS-12 space ship carrying it," he said, "we're ready to do what we needed to do to get it out."
The October failure was the first aborted launch for the Russian space program in 35 years and only the third in history.
A Russian investigation attributed October's failure to a sensor that was damaged during the racket's final assembly.
Ovchinin recalled that they felt "more annoyed than stressed" when their rescue caps touched down in the barren steppes of Kazakhstan. "NASA and Roscosmos praised the crew's valor and calmness in the aborted launch and promised to quickly give them a second chance
"We do not accept the risk blindly, we have mitigated it as much as we can, and we always plan to be successful," said Hague.
Ovchinin stressed that the aborted launch in October was an "interesting and very useful experience" that "demonstrated the reliability of the emergency rescue system."
Since the 2011 retirement of the U.S.
NASA, however, counts on SpaceX and Boeing to launch 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.