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Soyuz MS-12 trio launches toward ISS

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Soyuz MS-12 launches with two astronauts and a cosmonaut on a trip to the International Space Station. Photo Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA

Soyuz MS-12 launches with two astronauts and a cosmonaut on a visit to the Worldwide House Station. Picture Credit score: Invoice Ingalls / NASA

BAIKONUR COSMODROME, Kazakhstan — Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin and NASA astronauts Nick Hague and Christina Koch launched of their Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft to journey to the ISS for a six-month keep.

The trio launched at 12:14 a.m. native time March 15 (three:14 p.m. EDT / 19:14 GMT March 14), 2019, atop a Soyuz-FG rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. It was in orbit lower than 9 minutes later and can spent the subsequent 6 hours catching up with the ISS to dock with the Rassvet module at 9:01 p.m. EST (01:01 GMT March 15).

The liftoff was of particular curiosity to the area group at-large, because it was Hague and Ovchinin’s second try to succeed in the ISS after a booster malfunction triggered an emergency abort throughout their Soyuz MS-10 launch on Oct. 11, 2018.

Throughout that flight, the 2 males endured a sudden and harrowing journey away from their launch car when one of many 4 first stage boosters did not separate correctly, damaging the rocket’s foremost stage. Onboard cameras confirmed the 2 males buffeting facet to facet as their spacecraft screamed away from the tumbling rocket.

Photo Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA

Soyuz MS-12 lifts off from Baikonur Cosmodrome. Picture Credit score: Invoice Ingalls / NASA

They skilled a 6.5 G ballistic reentry and landed safely downrange in Kazakhstan. They settled to a touchdown, satirically, simply 30 miles (48 kilometers) from the city the place restoration forces are staged to hurry out and have a tendency to usually scheduled Soyuz landings. Their restoration was due to this fact fast, and the 2 males suffered no unwell results from their brief however eventful journey.

The launch failure left the ISS brief two crew members and necessitated the Expedition 57 crew remaining on the station a bit longer till the arrival of the Soyuz MS-11 crew of Roscosmos cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, NASA astronaut Anne McClain, and David Saint Jacques of the Canadian House Company on Dec. three. Quite a few components in ISS scheduling priorities and crew rotation concerns resulted in a reshuffling of crew assignments, in the end putting Hague and Ovchinin on the Soyuz MS-12, together with Koch who was already coaching for the mission.

Kansas native Tyler “Nick” Hague is an Air Pressure pilot and NASA astronaut making a second try at his first flight into orbit on this mission. Previous to his choice as an astronaut in 2013, he was a part of the Air Pressure Fellows program in Washington, working as an adviser to the U.S. Senate on issues of protection and overseas coverage.

Cosmonaut Ovchinin is the commander of Soyuz MS-12, and is on his second mission. Ovchinin beforehand flew to the ISS in 2016 as a part of Expedition 47 and 48.

Christina Hammock Koch is from North Carolina and has a background in electrical engineering. She is on her first mission into area, and can be a part of the 2013 astronaut class. Her work as a analysis discipline engineer included a number of deployments to Arctic and Antarctic discipline stations.

NASA astronaut Christina Koch, left, Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin, center, and NASA astronaut Nick Hague stand pose for a photo in front of their Soyuz MS-12. Photo Credit: NASA

NASA astronaut Christina Koch, left, Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin, middle, and NASA astronaut Nick Hague stand pose for a photograph in entrance of their Soyuz MS-12. Picture Credit score: NASA

Launch day

Launch day started with Hague, Koch, and Ovchinin waking on the Cosmonaut Resort in Baikonur some 9 hours earlier than the scheduled liftoff. The crew, together with their backups, Roscosmos cosmonaut Aleksandr Skvortsov, ESA astronaut Luca Parmitano, and NASA astronaut Andrew Morgan, then boarded a bus for the brief journey to web site 254, the place Hague, Ovchinin, and Koch started suiting up of their Sokol launch and entry fits.

At about 7:15 p.m. native time, fueling operations started on the 162-foot (49.5 meter) tall Soyuz-FG booster rocket. The loading of kerosene and liquid oxygen continued for concerning the subsequent two hours.

After their closing medical checks have been accomplished and their Sokol fits have been donned, the three every underwent a strain leak take a look at of their fits, snapping their visors shut and inflating the fits to strain. As soon as that was profitable, they unsnapped their visors and took seats at a viewing window, speaking by microphone with their households after which briefly with company leaders of NASA and Roscosmos.

Hague, top, Koch, center, and Ovchinin wave goodbye to those present at the launch pad. Photo Credit: NASA

Hague, prime, Koch, middle, and Ovchinin wave goodbye to these current on the launch pad. Picture Credit score: NASA

Hague, Koch, and Ovchinin have been then escorted outdoors, and with a crowd of spectators watching and cheering, made the ceremonial stroll to take their place earlier than the State Fee officers. After Ovchinin reported their readiness to fly, they stepped aboard a bus and departed for the launch pad.

A 20-minute drive delivered the crew to pad 1/5, often known as Gagarin’s Begin, the identical pad from which Yuri Gagarin launched to turn out to be the primary human in area almost 58 years in the past. The three crew members walked up a slender set of stairs to a touchdown on the base of the rocket, waved some goodbyes, and stepped into the cramped elevator which took them to the highest of the rocket, the place technicians assisted them with their entry into the Soyuz spacecraft.

With the crew secured of their seats within the descent module, the hatch was sealed and a sequence of pressurization and leak checks have been carried out. The checks have been accomplished about 1 hour and 20 minutes earlier than launch.

With 45 minutes within the countdown, the 2 clamshell service towers surrounding the Soyuz launch car slowly retracted and lowered away from the rocket.

The crew’s Sokol fits have been pressurized and checked for leaks with about 30 minutes within the countdown. By then the launchpad was absolutely evacuated, and the clamshell towers have been horizontal. The rocket stood on the pad with solely the umbilical masts connected to it. The countdown proceeded with out concern.

At T-minus eight minutes, the crew closed their helmets and initiated swimsuit air. Over the subsequent couple of minutes the propellant tanks have been pressurized and topped off till loading was terminated.

With 1 minute until liftoff the Soyuz went on inside energy and the countdown auto sequence started. At T-minus 40 seconds, the third stage umbilical retracted. Twenty seconds later, the 4 RD-107A booster engines and the core RD-108A core stage engine ignited. 5 seconds after that, the core stage umbilical retracted, and at T-minus 5 seconds the engines roared to full thrust degree.

Soyuz MS-12 as seen in the hours before liftoff. Photo Credit: NASA

Soyuz MS-12 as seen within the hours earlier than liftoff. Picture Credit score: NASA


With the countdown clock at zero, the rocket rose swiftly off the pad and soared into the evening sky over the Kazakh steppes. The engines reverberated throughout the open distances because the 141st Soyuz rocket climbed increased.

At 45 seconds into the flight, the car and its crew reached an altitude of 6.eight miles (11 kilometers) and have been touring at a velocity of 1,zero25 mph (1,650 kph). This was the section of Max Q or most aerodynamic strain on the car.

Almost two minutes after launch, the 4 strap-on boosters separated completely. The boosters tumbled away, leaving the core booster to proceed its climb towards orbit, and notably pushing Hague and Ovchinin previous the second of bother they encountered on their earlier flight.

Photo Credit: Bill Ingalls / NASA

Picture Credit score: Invoice Ingalls / NASA

The car was already 24 miles (39 kilometers) from the launchpad and 25 miles (41 kilometers) excessive, touring at three,490 mph (5,615 kph). About 30 seconds later the payload fairing separated into its two halves and fell away, exposing Soyuz MS-12 to area for the primary time.

At four minutes, 45 seconds, a sequence of occasions referred to as sizzling staging occurred, through which the higher or third stage engine begins spooling up, ejecting its exhaust upon the still-attached core stage by an open steel lattice construction connecting the 2 levels. The core stage then shut down, and two seconds later, when the third stage RD-0110 engine reached its full thrust, the core stage separated and fell away.

The third stage continued firing till eight minutes and 45 seconds into the flight. Seconds later the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft separated from the third stage. The antennas and twin photo voltaic panels have been deployed. Soyuz MS-12 was in orbit.

Catching up with ISS

Over the subsequent 6 hours and the course of solely four orbits, the spacecraft raised its altitude from about 124 miles (200 kilometers) to about 250 miles (400 kilometers) and maneuvered to a completely automated docking on the Rassvet module, an Earth-facing port of the Russian section of the ISS. Contact with the port came about at 9:01 a.m. EST (01:01 GMT March 15).

Upon arrival and hatch opening at about 11:07 a.m. EST (03:07 GMT March 15), Hague, Ovchinin, and Koch joined the now Expedition 59 Commander Kononenko and Flight Engineers McClain and Saint-Jacques, who’ve been on the station since Dec. three, and have comprised the three-person crew of the ISS for the reason that departure of the Soyuz MS-09 crew on Dec. 20.

Hague will simply have time to get used to his ISS environment earlier than he prepares for his first spacewalk on March 22. Hague might be spacewalking with Anne McClain to put in new batteries on the Energy Channel of the P4 Truss. On March 29 it is going to be Koch’s flip to spacewalk with McClain to put in extra of the batteries.

This pairing of Koch and McClain will present a little bit of historical past, as ISS U.S. EVA-53 would be the first ever all-female spacewalk.

Hague is scheduled for a second spacewalk, this time with David Saint Jacques, on April eight, to do work on the Truss Jumper mechanism. Ovchinin and Kononenko might be spacewalking someday in late Might.

The International Space Station seen from the departing crew of Soyuz MS-08 in October 2018, a month-and-a-half before the outpost's 20th anniversary. Photo Credit: NASA/Roscosmos

The Worldwide House Station seen from the departing crew of Soyuz MS-08 in October 2018, a month-and-a-half earlier than the outpost’s 20th anniversary. Picture Credit score: NASA/Roscosmos

Schedule modifications and busy occasions forward

Hague, Ovchinin, and Koch are at present scheduled to conduct their work aboard the station on a mission lasting 204 days, coming residence of their Soyuz spacecraft on Oct. three. However modifications to that schedule seem probably and a state of affairs of ride-trading could come into play.

The Soyuz MS-13 crew of Russian cosmonaut Aleksandr Skvortsov, European House Company astronaut Luca Parmitano, and NASA astronaut Drew Morgan is deliberate to reach on July 6. Soyuz MS-14 might be an uncrewed flight, as it’s a take a look at flight for modifications supposed to be used within the Soyuz 2.1a launch car.

The full Expedition 59 crew. Top row: NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, and Canadian Space Agency astronaut David Saint-Jacques. Bottom row: NASA astronaut Nick Hague, Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin, and NASA astronaut Christina Koch. Photo Credit: NASA

The complete Expedition 59 crew. Prime row: NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko, and Canadian House Company astronaut David Saint-Jacques. Backside row: NASA astronaut Nick Hague, Russian cosmonaut Aleksey Ovchinin, and NASA astronaut Christina Koch. Picture Credit score: NASA

Soyuz MS-15, with the crew of Oleg Skripochka of Roscosmos, NASA astronaut Christopher Cassidy, and the primary astronaut from the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is at present scheduled to reach on the ISS on Sept. 25.

However the UAE astronaut’s keep on the station is a brief one, scheduled for a few week. If a lot of the present plans go ahead as scheduled, the UAE astronaut is prone to come residence on Soyuz MS-12. However that will imply Koch would stay on the station a bit longer, returning to Earth on Dec. 18 with Skvortsov and Parmitano aboard Soyuz MS-13.

To spherical our the scheduling, Skvortsov and Parmitano’s MS-13 launch crew mate, Morgan, may also keep on the ISS an additional three months, coming residence with Skripochka and Cassidy on Soyuz MS-15 someday in March of 2020.

Amidst this schedule are also the probably arrivals of 1 or maybe each of the crews from the primary two Business Crew Program spacecraft.

Present progress signifies that the crew of NASA astronauts Douglas Hurley and Bob Behnken could arrive on the primary crewed SpaceX Crew Dragon by late summer season. The primary crewed Boeing CST-100 Starliner, with the crew of Boeing astronaut Chris Ferguson and NASA astronauts Nicole Mann and Mike Fincke, is at present deliberate to reach on the ISS someday within the fall.

On this present timetable, Koch would have the perfect likelihood of being aboard the station for the arrival of each Business Crew spacecraft.

No matter their return time, Hague, Ovchinin, and Koch will participate in about 250 analysis investigations and know-how demonstrations throughout their keep on the ISS. They, together with Kononenko, McClain, and Saint Jacques, make up the ISS crew of Expedition 59, with Kononenko in command on his fourth spaceflight.

Ovchinin is scheduled to take over as Commander of Expedition 60 on June 25, 2019.

Video courtesy of House Movies



Michael Cole is a life-long area flight fanatic and writer of some 36 instructional books on area flight and astronomy for Enslow Publishers. He lives in Findlay, Ohio, not removed from Neil Armstrong’s birthplace of Wapakoneta. His curiosity in area, and his background in journalism and public relations swimsuit him for his concentrate on analysis and growth actions at NASA Glenn Analysis Heart, and its Plum Brook Station testing facility, each in northeastern Ohio. Cole reached out to SpaceFlight Insider and requested to affix SFI as the primary member of the group’s “Group Glenn.”

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