It seems like only yesterday the world watched as a Russian Soyuz rocket experienced a last-second launch abort that sent NASA astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin careening back down to Earth. Both men survived the ordeal with little more than rattled nerves and now, five months later, they’re ready to try again.
The launch has been schedule for Thursday, March 14th, at 3:14 p.m. EDT, and the two men who had their plans for a trip to the International Space Station cut abruptly short will be joined by NASA’s Christina Koch for the six-hour journey towards the orbiting spacecraft.
The previous launch failure was extremely frightening to watch, but the reason for the mishap ultimately proved to be fairly mundane. During separation of the rocket stages, one of the components swung inward towards the rocket rather than away, striking it and leading to a mission abort. The crew capsule was safely pushed away from the rest of the rocket and landed a short while later.
After a brief break to digest the dramatic turn of events, astronaut Hague expressed confidence in his eventual return to space. He also praised the quick-thinking of his fellow traveler, Alexey Ovchinin, and the explanation he provided even as their spacecraft was speeding towards Earth after the abort.
Russia’s Soyuz rockets, while based on dated technology, have proved to be very reliable over the past few decades. A launch abort is exceedingly rare, and everyone is expecting this one to go much more smoothly.
Hague, Koch, and Ovchinin will be members of ISS Expeditions 59 and 60, and will spend several months aboard the space station once they safely arrive. Koch will be part of the first all-female spacewalk coming up on March 29th, which will be a historic day for NASA and women in space in general.