JOHNSON SPACE CENTER, Texas (AFNS) --
Surrounded by media representatives and audience members, Col. Nick Hague, NASA astronaut, and Alexey Ovchinin, Russian Roscosmos cosmonaut, discussed their upcoming trip to space during a news conference at the Johnson Space Center in Houston, June 18, 2018.
The two will journey to the International Space Station Oct. 11, 2018, aboard the Roscosmos Soyuz MS-10 spacecraft, launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Their six-month mission serves one purpose.
“We are up there … to do science,” said Hague in a Twitter-Chat hosted after the news conference. “Some of that I am simply performing, and some of that I am the test subject. But we are up there to ask questions and collect data so the scientists on the ground can answer those questions.”
Those questions, in the form of more than 300 experiments, are aimed at advancing science to benefit future deep-space travel.
“Some experiments will look at us and how we survive on orbit; what happens when you put a human up there for that long,” said Hague. “Space is the only place we can perform research where people have long-term exposure to microgravity. We can see what happens when you take gravity out of the equation. There are things we’re trying to discover about how the body responds.”
The U.S. and Russian space travelers will join the rest of their Expedition 57 crew, already on the ISS. The first three crewmembers left earth June 6, 2018, aboard the Soyuz MS-09 spacecraft, and arrived at the station June 8, 2018.
The team began training together more than a year ago.
“We trained a lot in Russia on the Russian segment of the International Space Station,” said Ovchinin. “We’ve also trained here in Houston on the U.S. segment of the station. But the biggest part of our training was on the Russian Soyuz vehicle in Russia.”
Additionally, Hague has trained nearly 150 hours in preparation for a possible space walk.
“The space walk that’s currently planned will help us improve the station’s capabilities,” said Hague. “We’ve been training a long time for it, and I’d love to put the training to some use.”
Hague, from Hoxie, Kansas, is the first astronaut from NASA’s 2013 astronaut class to fly to space. He is one of four active duty Air Force astronauts, beginning his training for space in 2013. He earned a Master of Science degree in Aeronautical and Astronautical Engineering from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 2000 and taught astronautics at the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colorado, from 2006-2009.
“It’s exciting. You work your whole life for something and when it’s there it’s hard to believe,” said Hague. “I just feel really lucky to be doing what I’m doing and to have the opportunity that I have.”
Hague credits his success to his family. His parents, Don and Bev Hague, live in Gering, Nebraska.
“My biggest source of inspiration in pursuing this dream has been my parents,” said Hague. “They taught me the value of education and hard work, and gave me constant love and support that let me know I could be successful.
Hague is married to Lt. Col. Catie Hague, also an Air Force officer. They have two sons.
“My wife and boys are the motivation that keeps me going,” he added. “They make the hard seem less hard. This is all thanks to them.”
Hague and Ovchinin will return to earth April 15, 2019, as part of Expedition 58. Watch their live launch Oct. 11 on https://www.nasa.gov/nasalive.