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Two astronauts get a new shot in space today after last year's rocket failure



This afternoon, three astronauts are slated to launch on a Russian Soyuz spacecraft from Kazakhstan tied to the international space station. For two of the three crew members, it is another chance after a catastrophic rocket failure has shortened their last flight in space.

Today, the trio launch includes NASA astronauts Christina Koch and Nick Haag along with Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin. The Hague and Ovchinin were slated to fly to the International Space Station on October 11 on the same version of the Russian Soyuz vehicle they are taking today. But only two and a half minutes in the flight, the Soyuz rocket, which launched the two astronauts, was destroyed as a side control slammed into the rocket.

Fortunately, the Soyuz capsule with The Hague and Ovchinin quickly began its disturbance order and separated from the overdue rocket about 31

miles up. It then performed what is known as a ballistic descent, a landing that is much steeper than your average return journey from space. After pulling a few extra Gs, The Hague and Ovchinin safely landed back on Earth using the Soyuz capsule parachutes.


The Hague and Ovchinin greet their families after the failed launch.
Photo by Bill Ingalls / NASA

After their trip to the station was shortened, NASA and Russia's state company, Roscosmos, decided to give the second flyers second chance and awarded them to today's aircraft with Koch. The Soyuz model, which failed, also quickly returned to aircraft a month later and even launched a three-seater crew safely in December.

Koch, The Hague and Ovchinin are slated to stay at the station for up to six months before returning this summer. This will be the first circuit for Koch and The Hague (not counting his botched flight) and the second time for Ovchinin (also not counting the October flight). They will attend NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko who have been living on the ISS for over three months. While on board, Koch and McClain are slated to perform the first all-female spacewalk in late March, completing upgrades on the space station's power channels, according to NASA.

Today's launch is scheduled for 3:14 PM ET out of Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. When Soyuz reaches orbit, the crew will remain there for approx. six hours before rendezvousing and docking with ISS at 09:07 ET. NASA plans to cover each event, with start coverage from at. 2 PM ET and docking coverage from 8 am 20.45 ET. So around noon. 10.30 ET opens the crew hatch and enters the ISS. Check back this afternoon to see The Hague and Ovchinin try for round two.


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