HISTORY HISTORY FOR CBS NEWS AND PERMISSION USED
A Russian cosmonaut and his NASA copilot had finally come into orbit five months after making a dramatic departure last October and had docked their first flight with a NASA astronaut the International Space Station six hours later to increase the crew of the lab to six.
Under a cloudy sky, the Boj-Soyuz booster awoke to life and climbed away from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 15:14:08 from EDT (12:14 pm local time), approximately at the moment Earth's rotation Launch pad – the same that Yuri Gagarin used at the beginning of the space age – brought into the plane orbit of the station.
Using a fast-lane rendezvous, Soyuz MS-12 / 58S commander Alexey Ovchinin, flight engineer Tyler on the left "Nick" Hague and astronaut Christina Koch retrieved the lab complex after a four-orbit chase an automatic docking in the dock Rassvet module with earth orientation at 21:01
After waiting for the rest of the movement to be dampened, the hooks and bolts snap in to lock the ferry for a so-called "hard partner" with the docking To pull port. It was expected that the hatches would be opened about two hours later, after tests to verify an airtight seal and equalize the pressure between the two spacecraft probes.
Station commander Oleg Kononenko, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques and NASA engineer Anne McClain awaited the arrival of the new crew. They were taken to the outpost on December 3 and had the station to themselves, since December 19, when a former Soyuz crew returned to Earth.
The station is usually staffed by a crew of six, but the Crew's rotation schedule was thrown off last October 11, when a Soyuz rocket carrying Ovchinin and The Hague suffered a catastrophic failure two minutes after launch when one of four strap-on boosters did not cleanly separate from the core core phase of the rocket.
The Soyuz Abort System has been activated automatically. accelerate the crew capsule away from the failed rocket. Ovchinin and The Hague reached a height of just over 80 kilometers, before they landed safely about 250 miles from the launch site.
The problem with the usually reliable Soyuz booster was quickly fixed, making Kononenko, Saint-Jacques, and McClain the path. 3 Dec. Departures had to be postponed.
The Soyuz probe MS-12 / 58S, which was originally launched on Thursday, is expected to launch in April with Commander Oleg Skripochka, a guest cosmonaut of the United Arab Emirates and Koch, in training as a flight engineer or co-pilot of the flight. In the course of the demolition, however, the flight was postponed and Ovchinin and Hague were commissioned to take over co-pilot role with Koch together with Hague.
In an interview before the cook's start, electrical engineer, climber and antarctic researcher veteran said she has no qualms about strapping herself into a Soyuz spacecraft and shooting into space.
"It's an incredible machine," she said. "The fact that reliability is so high is a very high profile, and it was a great privilege to have trained on a spacecraft that has such a stellar record. It was an honor. It's a good spaceship.
The extended crew of six is facing an extraordinary amount of work and three spacewalks scheduled to be completed later this month to install new solar array batteries and perform other upgrades and maintenance. Hague and McClain will perform the first battery replacement excursion on March 22. McClain and Koch are expected to follow seven days later. Hague and Saint-Jacques will conduct the third EVA on April 8th.
Cosmonaut Svetlana Savitskaya was the first woman to walk in space in 1984. Eleven American women followed in their footsteps, starting with astronaut Kathryn Sullivan during a shuttle flight in October 1984. McClain and Koch would be the thirteenth and fourteenth to hover outside a spacecraft, and the first all-female spaceflight team.
NASA originally planned to install the new solar array batteries in two spacewalks last fall, but launched the Japanese HTV-7 cargo ship that carried them. The orbit was delayed and the EVAs were postponed until the Arrival of Hague arrived last October. After the launch of the launch, the battery installation was delayed again.
Along with the spacewalks, the station crew will conduct a series of scientific research and routine maintenance, unloading six unmanned freighters – two Russian Progress Freighters, two SpaceX Dragon Supply Vessels, a Northrup Grumman Cygnus cargo pod, and a Japanese HTV.
Kononenko, Saint-Jacques and McClain are expected to return to Earth on June 25th to complete a 203-day mission. Ovchinin, The Hague and Koch will hold the station until July 6 when three new crew members arrive: Soyuz MS-13 / 59S commander Alexander Skvortsov, NASA astronaut Drew Morgan and Italian astronaut Luca Parmitano.
This flight was the last Russian mission that had carried US astronauts as NASA switched to commercial crew ships built by SpaceX and Boeing. SpaceX launched an unpiloted test flight on March 2 with its Crew Dragon spacecraft and may be ready to launch the first astronauts in midsummer.
Hague and Koch have trained for Crew Dragon and Boeing's Starliner docking, Hague landmarks are "a really big deal" for NASA, giving the US Space Agency their sole confidence in the Russian Soyuz for transportation to and from the space station.
NASA, however, secures their bets. The agency is in the process of acquiring two additional Soyuz seats, one for the fall and next spring, to ensure that American astronauts can reach the station when the commercial occupation program is long delayed.
However, it does not matter that Ovchinin, Hague, and Koch are expected to return to Earth on October 3 to complete a 204-day mission.