Two American astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut are set to join the crew aboard the International Space Station on Thursday, March 14. The trios arrival will return the orbiting laboratorys population to six, including three NASA astronauts. This launch will also mark the fourth Expedition crew with two female astronauts. Live coverage will air on NASA Television and the agencyswebsite.
NASA astronautsNick HagueandChristina Koch, and cosmonautAlexey Ovchininof Roscosmos, are set to launch aboard the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft at 3:14 p.m. EDT (12:14 a.m. March 15 Kazakhstan time) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a six-hour journey to the station.
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 astronautAnne McClain, station commander Oleg Kononenko of Roscosmos, and David Saint-Jacques of the Canadian Space Agency. The current three-person crewjust welcomedthe 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 Expedition 59 crews launch and docking activities are as follows (all times EDT):
Thursday, March 14:
- 2 p.m. Soyuz MS-12 launch coverage (launch at 3:14 p.m.)
- 8:45 p.m. Docking coverage (docking scheduled for 9:07 p.m.)
- 10:30 p.m. Hatch opening and welcome coverage
A full complement of video of thecrews pre-launch activitiesin Baikonur will air on NASA TV in the days preceding launch.
The crew members of Expeditions 59 and 60 will continue work onhundreds of experimentsin biology, biotechnology, physical science and Earth science aboard the humanitys only permanently occupied microgravity laboratory.
McClain, Saint-Jacques, Hague and Koch also are all scheduled for the first spacewalks of their careers to continue upgrades to the orbital laboratory. McClain and Hague are scheduled to begin work to upgrade the power system March 22, and McClain and Koch will complete the upgrades to two station power channels during a March 29 spacewalk. This will be the first-ever spacewalk with all-female spacewalkers. Hague and Saint-Jacques will install hardware for a future science platform during an April 8 spacewalk.
Hague and Ovchinin are completing a journey that was cut short Oct. 11, when a booster separation problem with their Soyuz rockets first stage triggered a launch abort two minutes into the flight. They landed safely a few minutes later, after reaching the fringes of space, and were reassigned to fly again after McClain, Kononenko and Saint-Jacques launched in early December. This will be Ovchinins third flight into space, the second for Hague and the first for Koch. Hague, Koch, and McClain are from NASAs2013 astronaut class, half of which were womenthe highest percentage of female astronaut candidates ever selected for a class.