The first Space Force Guardian to launch to the International Space Station will be NASA astronaut Nick Hague.
Hague was named to the SpaceX Crew-9 mission on Wednesday, January 31, in anticipation of the anticipated August launch of the International Space Station (ISS). Hague traveled twice to space with the U.S. Air Force and NASA before being transferred to Space Force.
Since the beginning of the space program, NASA and the Department of Defense have worked together. For example, the military was used to choose the first American astronauts for the Mercury program in 1959. According to Space Force statistics, over two-thirds of NASA astronauts have served in the armed forces of the United States even today.
However, Space Force became the sixth branch of the US military only in 2019. In 2019, after his final trip to the ISS, Hague served as the head of test and evaluation for Space Force during a leadership rotation at the Pentagon. In 2021, while still serving in that capacity, he moved from the Air Force to the Space Force.
Hague has traveled to space twice, albeit his initial visit lasted only a few hours. On October 11, 2018, his first attempt to launch the International Space Station (ISS) was canceled in midair by a faulty sensor on his Russian Soyuz rocket, which was also carrying Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin.
A few days after the abort, Hague, who was undamaged by the emergency landing, told reporters, “This is not the first in-flight emergency that I’ve been a part of.” He cited his experience as a test pilot and combatant in the U.S. Air Force as proof.
The primary cause of the rocket failure was solved by Russian engineers. On March 15, 2019, the trio—which included NASA astronaut Christina Koch—arrived at the orbiting lab after a second Soyuz launch five months later. Hague has already spent 203 days in space.
Hague’s fellow members of Crew-9 are NASA astronauts Zena Cardman and Stephanie Wilson, as well as Roscosmos cosmonaut Aleksandr Gorbunov. It will be Cardman and Gorbunov’s first time in space. Over the course of three orbital flights, Wilson logged 42 days in space; the most recent flight was on space shuttle Discovery mission STS-131 in April 2010.
Under NASA’s commercial crew program, Crew-9 will be SpaceX’s ninth mission to launch and will be in orbit for almost half a year. NASA also revealed on Wednesday that the next Crew-8 mission of SpaceX is scheduled to launch to the International Space Station no earlier than February 22.