NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin are now getting settled into the International Space Station after four orbits of Earth and several hours aboard a Soyuz spacecraft that launched earlier Thursday.
saw their previous attempt to visit the ISS last year aborted when an emergency maneuver violently swung them clear of catastrophe.
On Oct. 11, the pair made an uncontrolled “ballistic descent” back toward Earth after their Soyuz rocket’s first-stage boosters failed to separate properly. The onboard computer automatically triggered an escape motor that basically shoots the Soyuz crew capsule to the side and out of harm’s way.
After making it safely to the ground,as “fairly aggressive but fleeting.”
It was a very different scene Thursday when Soyuz lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 12:14 p.m. PT. Everything went off normally and the spacecraft carrying Hague, Ovchinin and another astronaut, Christina Koch, went into orbit several minutes later.
The trio makes up the Expedition 59 crew that joined three others already on board the ISS when the Russian craft docked with the station at 6:01 p.m. PT Thursday.
The Soyuz has been the only vehicle capable of delivering crew to the ISS since the end of the space shuttle program in 2011, but that could soon change. SpaceX completed its first uncrewed demonstration mission using its Friday. The first crewed flight of the new capsule to the ISS could take place in July. Boeing’s Starliner spacecraft is also set to undertake its first demonstration flights soon.
After a brief investigation, the Soyuz flew again for the first time following the accident on Dec. 3, carrying the current crew that welcomed Hague, Koch and Ovchinin Thursday.
Originally published March 8.
Updates, March 14: This story has been updated throughout to reflect the launch and Soyuz arrival at the ISS Thursday.