NASA astronaut says Russian rocket failure, abort 'was one wild ride'

'When NASA wants me to fly I'm ready to go,' Nick Hague says

Tyler N. (Nick) Hague, NASA astronaut class of 2013. Photo credit: NASA
Tyler N. (Nick) Hague, NASA astronaut class of 2013. Photo credit: NASA

HOUSTON – Less than a week after NASA astronaut Nick Hague's launch to the International Space Station ended in a mission failure forcing the Russian spacecraft to make an emergency landing he spoke about what he experienced.

Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin were a few minutes into their flight on the Soyuz-FG rocket Thursday when a problem occurred and the spacecraft automatically aborted the space capsule, jettisoning the astronauts safely back to Earth.

Hague arrived back in Houston on Monday and answered questions from the media at NASA's Johnson Space Center about his experience.

Hague said he was alerted something was wrong when the Soyuz spacecraft violently jolted side-to-side, alarms in the spacecraft went off and a warning light read "booster failure."

"It was pretty aggressive but it was pretty fleeting," Hague said, adding it was then he "knew we weren't making it to space today."

Hague and Ovchinin would have experienced six to seven times Earth's gravity when the Soyuz spacecraft conducted a ballistic abort, sending it away from the rocket failure "like a bullet," Deputy Chief of the Astronaut Office Reid Wisemen said last week. Normal re-entry is usually around four or five times Earth's gravity.

Hague also described being reunited with his wife and sons after the emergency landing. The first chance he got he called his wife, U.S Air Force Lt. Col. Catie Hague, after the landing and it went to voicemail so he left her a message.

"She’s got a voicemail that she can keep as a memento for the rest of her life," Hague said. "I told her I’m fine and it was one wild ride."

Ovchinin, 47, previously visited the space station in 2016, spending 172 days in orbit. For Hague, this would have been his first trip to space. He was the first of his 2013 astronaut class to be called up for a flight.

Two minutes into the flight when the abort was triggered, the Soyuz spacecraft was at the edge of space.

"I saw the curve of the Earth out there and the blackness of space," Hague said. "It was bittersweet."

[READ: What Russia's rocket failure means for human spaceflight]

Roscosmos officials have said both Hague and his Russian counterpart will get another flight. Hague said he's ready whenever he gets that order.

"When NASA wants me to fly, I'm ready to go," Hague said.

The investigation into what caused the rocket to fail is ongoing. Investigators are expected turn over their findings to Roscosmos before the end of the month.

Russian officials have already said they know when the failure occurred; however, what caused it is under investigation.

Sergei Krikalyov, the head of Roscosmos' crewed programs, told Russian media the failure happened when one of the rocket's four boosters failed to separate damaging the rocket's main stage and triggering an emergency abort.

NASA Astronaut Nick Hague on Aborted Space Station Mission

NASA Astronaut Nick Hague will speak to media for the first time since his trip to the space station was aborted last Thursday. Shortly after launch, there was an anomaly with the booster, and the launch ascent was aborted, resulting in a ballistic landing of the spacecraft. Comment with your questions and he will answer a few of them following media interviews. More info: https://www.nasa.gov/feature/astronaut-cosmonaut-safe-after-abort-during-launch-to-international-space-station

Posted by International Space Station on Tuesday, October 16, 2018

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