After a narrow escape from a doomed rocket, an astronaut and cosmonaut are trying again to launch into space today
- Three people are scheduled to launch into space at 3:14 p.m. EDT on Thursday aboard a Russian rocket called Soyuz.
- Two of the crew members - NASA astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin - tried to launch on a Soyuz in October, but it failed in mid-flight.
- An emergency escape system saved Hague and Ovchinin from the doomed rocket.
- The two will again try to reach the International Space Station, this time with NASA astronaut Christina Koch, who's slated to participate in the first all-female spacewalk later this month.
- You can watch live video (below) of the Soyuz launch and docking via NASA TV starting at 2 p.m. EDT.
NASA astronaut Nick Hague and cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin were rocketing toward space at 4,000 mph on October 11 when the unthinkable happened.
As they were gaining speed 1 minute and 24 seconds into the flight, one of the Russian-built Soyuz rocket's four side boosters failed to detach, dooming the launch. After a flashing of lights and throbbing of alarms - signals that gave the two men a moment to realize what was about to happen - an emergency system blasted the space capsule off the rocket.
They eventually landed uninjured in Kazakhstan.
"We're kind of hanging upside-down from our straps ... and we looked at each other, big grins. He holds out a hand. I shake his hand. And then we start cracking a few jokes between us about how short our flight was," Hague told the Associated Press.
Following the failure, Hague and Ovchinin said they were grateful to be alive but disappointed about not reaching reaching the International Space Statio after years of training.
But today, the two men will get a second chance.
If all goes well, their new Soyuz MS-12 spaceship should lift off at 3:14 p.m. EDT and dock with the orbiting laboratory about six hours later, kicking off a roughly 6-month stay.
"I'm 100% confident in the rocket and the spaceship," Hague recently told the AFP.
Riding along with them will be NASA astronaut Christina Hammock Koch, who's slated to perform the first-ever all-female spacewalk on Mach 29. Joining Koch for that historic event - an operation to upgrade the space station's power supplies - will be NASA astronaut Anne McClain.
McClain launched to the space station aboard a Soyuz on December 3, following a weeks-long investigation into the October launch failure by Roscomos, Russia's space agency. She flew with Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques and space station commander Oleg Kononenko, a cosmonaut.
All six crew members will remain together in orbit until July 2019, when McClain, Saint-Jacques, and Kononenko will return to Earth.
Watch Thursday's Soyuz launch live online
Lift-off should happen at 3:14 p.m. ET today (March 14), which will be 12:14 a.m. local time on Friday, March 15, according to NASA TV's schedule. Live coverage typically continues until the spacecraft is safely in orbit, or about nine minutes after lift-off.
Over the following six hours (which NASA won't broadcast), the Soyuz MS-12 spaceship will try to catch up to the space station. Then NASA plans to pick up its live broadcast again at 8:15 p.m. ET to show the spaceship dock with the ISS, which is scheduled to happen at 9:07 p.m. ET.
The feed will again resume at 10:30 p.m. ET, as the crew members open the hatches between the Soyuz and space station (that's scheduled for 11:10 p.m. ET). A welcoming ceremony will follow.
Today's launch happens to fall on Pi Day (3/14) at 3:14 ET. Those are the first three digits of Pi, which is among the most important numbers in math -one that's essential in getting into orbit around Earth.
NASA told Business Insider that the timing is just "a cool coincidence for those of us who fall into the Eastern Time zone." But Hague appears to view the coincidence more significantly.
"Lift off on #PiDay," Hague, who has an aerospace background, tweeted. "An engineer's dream come true."