It’s been a number of months since the failed Soyuz launch derailed plans for astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin to head to the International Space Station, but they finally made it to their original destination. In a launch late Thursday, both Ovchinin and Hague headed to the ISS with first-time space traveler Christina Koch.
A few hours after launch, the Soyuz spacecraft carrying the trio docked with the space station, bringing the population of the ISS back up to its typical crew count of six. The newly-arrived scientists will spend roughly the next six months in space.
NASA is mighty happy to have its new astronauts aboard the space station, and provided a brief summary of the kinds of work the crew will be handling:
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.
Being sent into space is something that only a very small percentage of humans have ever had the privilege of experiencing, but the crew of the ISS isn’t there for pleasure. Many of the experiments being conducted on the spacecraft provide useful information for scientific initiatives back on Earth, as well as future missions that will go deeper into space.
Later this month, new ISS inhabitant Christina Koch will be part of the first all-female spacewalk when she and fellow NASA astronaut Anne McClain step outside the ship to perform a variety of duties and experiments.