Crew from aborted Soyuz mission to get second chance at ISS mission

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WASHINGTON — The two crewmembers on a Soyuz mission to the International Space Station that was aborted two minutes after liftoff in October will get a second chance to go to the ISS next year, NASA announced Dec. 3.

The agency said that NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin have been assigned to the crew of Soyuz MS-12, the next crewed mission to the ISS, joining NASA astronaut Christina Hammock Koch. That mission will launch to the ISS Feb. 28 and return in October.

Hague and Ovchinin were on the Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft that launched Oct. 11 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome. However, their Soyuz booster malfunctioned two minutes after liftoff when one of four strap-on boosters recontacted the core stage after separation. That triggered the Soyuz spacecraft’s launch abort system, sending the spacecraft away from the damaged rocket.

The Soyuz capsule landed safely in Kazakhstan, with Hague and Ovchinin emerging from the incident unhurt. The two were awaiting new assignments since the accident, with Russian officials suggesting in October the two could fly again in the spring of 2019.

Hague, in post-flight interviews Oct. 16, said he was interested in making another attempt to get to the ISS, but didn’t know when that would happen. “I feel in good shape and I’m ready to get back in it, so I’m here and ready to go when I’m called upon,” he said then.

NASA had already assigned Koch to the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft in May, a mission at the time scheduled for launch in April 2019. She had been training with Russian cosmonaut Oleg Skripochka and Hazza Al Mansouri, who was in line to be the first astronaut from the United Arab Emirates to fly in space.

Those plans were expected to change after the Soyuz MS-10 abort, as Al Mansouri would have returned on Soyuz MS-10, with Hague and Ovchinin, after a brief stay on the station had that mission flown as planned. The flight of Al Mansouri or another Emirati astronaut will likely be delayed until later in the year.

The revised schedule, moving up the launch by about a month, will limit the time on the station with only a three-person crew. Oleg Kononenko, Anne McClain and David Saint-Jacques, who arrived on the ISS Dec. 3 shortly before the announcement of the Soyuz MS-12 crew, will have the station to themselves after Serena Auñón-Chancellor, Alexander Gerst and Sergey Prokopyev depart the ISS Dec. 20.