Today at 3:14 EDT, a Russian Soyuz rocket will launch, carrying Russian astronaut Aleksey Ovchinin and Americans Nick Hague and Grand Rapids, Michigan native Christina Koch, to the International Space Station. Watch it online at NASA-TV.

When they dock at the ISS, Christina will be greeted by NASA astronaut Anne McClain. Not only is Christina the first female astronaut from Michigan, but according to CNN, she'll also take part in the first all-women space walk on March 29th, when she and McClain are scheduled to step outside for about seven hours. Two other women, NASA lead flight director Mary Lawrence and lead spacewalk controller Jackie Kagey will provide support from Mission Control. NASA will provide coverage of the spacewalk starting 6:30 a.m. March 29, on its website, social media channels and on NASA TV.

As for the other astronauts blasting off this afternoon, you might remember Aleksey Ovchinin and Nick Hague as the two guys who dodged disaster when Soyuz MS-10 suffered an "In-Flight Abort" at an altitude of 31 miles on October 11, 2018. After jettisoning the capsule, they peaked out at an altitude of 57 miles, before parachutes deployed and they landed safely. Here's a crazy discussion from about whether or not that altitude qualifies them to say they'd reached space. The Russians say "no". NASA disagrees. Regardless, they're getting a second chance this afternoon.

Good luck to Christina and the boys. We'll be watching.

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