As­tro­naut con­fi­dent for sec­ond launch

Flight en­gi­neer ready for ISS af­ter Rus­sia’s rocket failed this fall

San Antonio Express-News (Sunday) - - Metro - By Alex Stuckey STAFF WRITER

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


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