Astronaut confident for second launch
Flight engineer ready for ISS after Russia’s rocket failed this fall
NASA astronaut Nick Hague has spent the last two months trying to explain to his two young boys what happened on that fateful day in October when the spacecraft transporting him to the International Space Station was forced to make an emergency landing.
And now, he’ll spent the next several months explaining why he plans to go back in February.
“From the moment I got back and was able to give them that first hug, this has been an ongoing conversation of trying to explain to them what happened and why I was able to survive it,” Hague said Friday during an interview with Hearst Newspapers. “But even more, I was trying to explain to them the risks, but why we take these chances: The work we’re doing on the space station is for the good of humanity.”
On Oct. 11, the world watched as Hague and his crewmate, Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, were robbed of their chance to live on the space station after the Soyuz spacecraft transporting them there had to abort its launch when a rocket booster failed.
It was unclear for some time when, if ever, Hague would get another chance to fly. But after NASA astronaut Anne McClain and her crew mates made it to the space station safely Monday — the first crewed mission since the aborted launch — the space agency announced that Hague and Ovchinin would get another shot Feb. 28.
“I’m excited about it. I’m 100 percent ready to go,” Hague said. “I’m happy to get to the point where I’ve fulfilled my mission.”
The October abort was Russia’s first in 35 years, and many officials deemed it a success because both Hague and Ovchinin were safe and in good condition. But it made some space experts question whether Russia’s space program was up to snuff, especially because it followed the discovery of a hole that caused an air leak in a different Soyuz docked to the space station in late August.
But Hague said Friday he isn’t worried. If anything, he’s more confident than ever.
“Obviously when you’re 30 miles up going 4,000 miles an hour and the rocket comes apart underneath you, that’s cutting it as close as you can, and we were fortunate to come out of that as well as we did,” he said. “But that safety net worked flawlessly and it gives you a sense of confidence in the overall ability of the system.”
In February, Hague and Ovchinin will be joined by American astronaut Christina Hammock Koch, a member of the 2013 astronaut class who initially was scheduled to fly in April. Hague is also a member of the 2013 class.
Russian officials in November announced that the failed launch