Aboard the space station, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Expedition 59 Commander Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency will welcome the new crew members when the hatches between the two spacecraft are opened following standard pressurization and leak checks.
The crew members will spend more than six months conducting about 250 science investigations in fields such as biology, Earth science, human research, physical sciences, and technology development. Seventy-five of the investigations are new and have never been performed in space. Some of the investigations are sponsored by the U.S. National Laboratory on the space station, which Congress designated in 2005 to maximize its use for improving quality of life on Earth.
The Soyuz MS-12 launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan to the International Space Station at 3:14 p.m. EDT (12:14 a.m. March 15 Kazakhstan time) and has safely reached orbit. At the time of launch, the station was flying about 250 miles over southern Russia, across the northeast border with Kazakhstan; more than 1,100 statute miles ahead of the Soyuz as it leaves the launch pad.
NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch, and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmoshave begun their six-hour trip to the orbital laboratory where they will live and work for more than six months. The new crew members will dock to the Rassvet module at 9:07 p.m. Expedition 59 will begin officially at the time of docking.
About two hours later, hatches between the Soyuz and the station will open and the new residents will be greeted by NASA astronaut Anne McClain, station commander Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency. The current three-person crew just welcomed the first American commercial crew vehicle as it docked to the station on March 3, amidst a busy schedule of scientific research and operations since arriving in December.
Coverage of the Soyuz docking to the International Space Station will begin on NASA TV’s media channel and the agency’s website beginning at 8:45 p.m. with the spacecraft docking expected at 9:07 p.m.
Coverage of the hatch opening between the Soyuz and the space station will begin at 10:30 p.m.
At the post-launch news conference for the Expedition 58 crew, Roscosmos and NASA officials announced that NASA astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos, who were forced to abort their recent mission Oct. 11 to the International Space Station, are now scheduled to launch again Feb. 28, 2019, from the Baikonour Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Hague and Koch will serve as flight engineers for Expeditions 59 and 60. Ovchinin will serve as a flight engineer on Expedition 59 and the commander of Expedition 60. The trio will return to Earth in October 2019 as members of Expedition 60.
All three crew members will participate in a news conference at 2 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 12, at NASA’s Johnson Space Center in Houston that will air live on NASA TV and the agency’s website.
This will be Koch’s first spaceflight. Flight dynamics specialists determined Hague and Ovchinin achieved enough altitude on their aborted climb to orbit to qualify for previous spaceflight status, making this Hague’s second spaceflight and Ovchinin’s third.