A Russian cosmonaut and his NASA co-pilot, five months after riding out a dramatic launch abort last October, finally made it into orbit Thursday and, along a with NASA astronaut making her first flight, docked with the International Space Station six hours later to boost the lab's crew back to six.
Using a fast-track rendezvous procedure, Soyuz MS-12/58S commander Alexey Ovchinin, left-seat flight engineer Tyler "Nick" Hague and astronaut Christina Koch caught up with the lab complex after a four-orbit chase, moving in for an automated docking at the Earth-facing Rassvet module at 9:01 p.m.
Awaiting the new crew's arrival were station commander Oleg Kononenko, Canadian astronaut David Saint-Jacques and NASA flight engineer Anne McClain.
Ovchinin, Hague and Koch will have the station to themselves between then and July 6 when three fresh crew members will arrive: Soyuz MS-13/59S commander Alexander Skvortsov, NASA astronaut Drew Morgan and Italian Luca Parmitano, a veteran European Space Agency astronaut.
Hague and Koch have trained for Crew Dragon and Starliner dockings, milestones Hague says are "a really big deal" for NASA, allowing the U.S. space agency to end its sole reliance on the Russian Soyuz for transportation to and from the space station.