Gallery: Soyuz MS-12 launches into space, docks with ISS
With Soyuz MS-12 safely docked at the International Space Station, Expedition 59 began, bringing the outpost’s crew size back to six.
Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin and NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch lifted off in their spacecraft atop a Soyuz-FG rocket at 3:14 p.m. EDT (19:14 GMT) March 14, 2019, from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
It was the second attempt for Ovchinin and Hague to reach space after their Soyuz MS-10 mission ended roughly two minutes into ascent when a booster separation malfunction prompted an in-flight abort. The two landed safely downrange in Kazakhstan some 20 minutes later.
This time, joined by Koch, the flight went by the book and entered orbit about nine minutes later, setting the stage for a six-hour rendezvous profile to catch up with and dock to the ISS. That docking came at 9:01 p.m. EDT (01:01 GMT March 15) when Soyuz MS-12 made contact with the Earth-facing port of the Rassvet module.
After leak checks and hatch opening, which occurred at about 11:07 p.m. EDT (03:07 GMT March 15), the crew ventured to the Zvezda service module and had a welcoming ceremony, talking with friends and colleagues via radio back in Baikonur.
“You made it,” said Lt. Col. Catie Hague, Nick’s wife.
That was followed by laughs in the conference room as she was referencing the fact that his previous flight did not go as well as this one.
“It went infinity better than the last one,” Hague said.
Some of Koch’s friends and family were also there. She also had a number of people watching her launch and arrive at the ISS via NASA TV.
“The launch was incredible,” said Robert Koch, her husband. “The outpour of love and messages and people reaching out is unbelievable. We had so many people contact us about the launch and so many people are so proud of you.”
Koch said she owes a lot from the support of everybody, including the teams at NASA and Roscosmos, that got them all to the ISS.
Hague and Ovchinin are planning to stay aboard the outpost until Oct. 3, 2019. Koch will stay aboard for an additional three months to make room for a United Arab Emirates astronaut to return to Earth after he launches aboard Soyuz MS-15 in late September 2019. She will return in December via Soyuz MS-13.
Video courtesy of NASA
Video courtesy of NASA