Two astronauts who survived a Soyuz rocket launch failure on Oct. 11, 2018, complete their journey to the International Space Station on Thursday, March 14.
It's a milestone that comes a few months delayed, but NASA's Nick Hague and Roscosmos' Alexey Ovchinin finally arrived at the space station after a harrowing emergency landing last year that occurred just minutes after liftoff.
NASA reports that the Soyuz MS-12/58S spacecraft launched Hague, Ovchinin, and Christina Koch of NASA at 3:14 p.m. EDT from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The trio docked at the ISS at 9:01 p.m.
"A great launch of the Soyuz-MS12 crew," NASA spokesperson Gary Jordan says during the live coverage of the launch. "A textbook ascent and the Soyuz is in orbit, solar arrays deployed and the crew is on its way."
Expedition 59 Begins
With the successful docking of the Soyuz spacecraft, Expedition 59 is officially underway.
Hague, Koch, and Ovchinin join three other crew members who are currently at the station: Anne McClain of NASA, David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency, and Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos.
ISS is facing a particularly busy stretch with three spacewalks set in the next month. On March 22 and 29, the crew will be installing more powerful batteries for the solar array along with completing other checks and upgrades. Then on April 8, another pair of crew members will be laying jumper cables in place.
Notably, the second spacewalk will mark the first all-woman spacewalk in history with Koch and McClain stepping out of the station.
The crew of Expedition 59 will also spend their time conducting around 250 science investigations in various fields, 75 of which have never been attempted in space.
McClain, Saint-Jacques, and Kononenko are expected to return to Earth on June, while Hague, Koch, and Ovchinin will be back by the fall of 2019.
Soyuz's Failed Launch In 2018
With the success of their journey to the ISS, Hague and Ovchinin fully put the failed launch of 2018 behind them. At the time, a malfunction occurred shortly after takeoff, and the pair was forced to make an emergency landing that sent them plummeting to Earth.
Fortunately, the astronaut and cosmonaut emerged from the experience unharmed.
The Soyuz spacecraft is in good condition as well. Two months after the aborted launch, the rocket completed its first manned mission after the incident, carrying McClain, Kononenko, and Saint-Jacques to the ISS on Dec. 4, 2018.