Soyuz launches at 3:14 p.m. on Pi Day

2 American astronauts, Russian cosmonaut on the way to space station

By Antonia Jaramillo, Florida Today

Expedition 59 crew members Christina Koch of NASA, Alexey Ovchinin of Roscosmos and Nick Hague of NASA during pre-launch training for launch on March 14 at 3:14 p.m., U.S. time, on the Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in…

At 3:14 p.m. ET March 14 — or what is commonly referred to as Pi Day — a Soyuz MS-12 spacecraft carrying two American astronauts and a Russian cosmonaut lifted off from Kazakhstan as it made its way to the International Space Station, reports News 6 partner Florida Today.

The Pi Day launch carried NASA astronaut Nick Hague and Russian cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, who were forced to abort their last mission to the space station in October when their Soyuz rocket booster experienced a malfunction shortly after launch. Fortunately, the Soyuz abort system did its job, leaving Hague and Ovchinin unharmed. 

Also aboard the spacecraft is NASA astronaut Christina Koch. All three crew members are expected to dock at the space station at 8:15 p.m. where they will be greeted a couples hours later by NASA astronaut Anne McClain, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques and Russian cosmonaut Oleg Kononenko. 

Koch and McClain are also scheduled to conduct the first all-female spacewalk later this month.

This annual celebration of the mathematical constant will not only have three humans launching to space, but it is also Albert Einstein's birthday and this year will mark the one-year anniversary of the death of theoretical physicist and cosmologist, Stephen Hawking.

What exactly is pi?

The mathematical constant represents a series of more than 1 trillion digits starting with three, one and four and is defined as the ratio of a circle's circumference to its diameter. However, it is now used in many mathematical formulas. 


The irrational number beginning with 3.14159 and so forth is usually represented by the Greek symbol "π" or is spelled out as "pi." It is also called Archimedes' constant, after the Greek mathematician Archimedes who created the algorithm for calculating it in 250 B.C. 

Though the number pi is integral to many mathematical equations, the world will never know the true value of pi since it can never be calculated. This means we can never find the true circumference of a circle. 

On March 14, people from all around the world join together to celebrate the achievements in mathematics, and of course, to eat pie. 

It's also Einstein's birthday

Lucien Aigner/Three Lions/Hulton Archive/Getty Images

Albert Einstein

Seems only fitting that Albert Einstein, the genius theoretical physicist known for developing the theory of relativity — a theory that is still being proven today by scientists — was born on Pi Day in 1879. 

The Nobel Prize winner in physics is best remembered for creating the world's most famous equation: E = mc2, according to "E=mc2: A Biography of the World's Most Famous Equation" author David Bodanis. 

Today, scientists at NASA are still proving Einstein's theories. 

"We're starting to understand physics, astrophysics, in a way that previously was only theory," NASA administrator Jim Bridenstine told reporters March 11 at Kennedy Space Center, where he spoke about NASA's Moon to Mars plans. "Now for the first time, we are proving out the reality of the theory of relativity."

Bridenstine also talked about how NASA's James Webb Telescope — when launched — will allow astrophysicists to learn and discover how the universe formed billions of years ago. 

Remembering the legendary cosmologist 

Bryan Bedder/Getty Images for Breakthrough Prize Foundation

On last year's Pi Day, the world lost another genius — English theoretical physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking, who died March 14, 2018, at age 76.

Known for the theoretical prediction that black holes emit radiation, Hawking was the first to find a theory that explained the union of the general theory of relativity and quantum mechanics.

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