By Airman Amanda Lovelace | 50th Space Wing Public Affairs
SCHRIEVER AIR FORCE BASE, Colo. — Col. Nick Hague, NASA astronaut for space expeditions 59 and 60 last year, visited Schriever Air Force Base, Colorado, Feb. 5, 2020.
During his visit, Hague met with roughly 40 Ellicott School District students and shared his experiences from living on the International Space Station, generating interest in “out of this world” related career fields for the next generation.
“Being able to help [younger generations] see they can have an impact on the world around them is so beneficial,” he said. “Every one of them has value. Inspiring them to chase their passions, to be part of something larger than themselves, it makes the community stronger.”
Hague also toured several Schriever units to learn more about how their missions support the space station mission.
“Without the support the 50th Space Wing provides, we couldn’t do the mission on the space station,” Hague said.
Capt. Josh Harnisch, 2nd Space Operations Squadron Global Positioning System operations flight commander, said the space station relies on GPS for determining both its position and orientation in space, which ties into controlling the solar arrays that provide electricity to the space station.
“In 2nd SOPS, we focus a lot on ensuring we provide the absolute best position, navigation and timing signal possible, because we know our mission enables both military operations and large swaths of the global civilian economy,” he said. “Knowing that it’s also tightly integrated into human exploration adds an additional level of gravity to what we do on a day-to-day basis.”
To finish his visit, Hague shared his perspective on the importance of our mission with members of Team Schriever at the Event Center. He also touched on the “future of space,” NASA’s Artemis program.
The Artemis program is projected to land the first woman and the next man on the Moon by 2024, using new technologies to explore more of the lunar surface.
“What we do in the space station — performing scientific experiments, trying to understand things for the benefit of everybody on the ground, regardless of where they’re from — that’s something that we depend on with services that the 50th Space Wing, the [U.S.] Space Force, provide,” he said. “It wouldn’t be possible without them; they make it happen. Where it’s going to grow in the future is where we start launching from U.S. soil again and we’re going to see Airmen launching Airmen. We’re going to see the very best NASA has to offer.”
Along with Maj. Caitlin Reilly, the Air Force Academy honored Hague with its Col. James Jabara Award for Airmanship. The award recognizes academy graduates “whose accomplishments demonstrate superior performance in fields directly involved with aerospace vehicles.”
In conjunction with the Jabara family and the Association of Graduates, USAFA established the Col. James Jabara Award for Airmanship Jan. 5, 1967. Each major air command, field operating agency and direct reporting unit may submit one nomination for the award.
Hague’s performance during an incident that took place Oct. 11, 2018, made him stand out against other nominees.
He and his Russian crewmate, Cosmonaut Alexey Ovchinin, were forced to abort their mission to space after their rocket booster malfunctioned shortly after launch.
Within seconds of the malfunction and under immense pressure, Hague and Ovchinin took action and began completing their life-saving checklists which aided in position reports, ensured pressure in the capsule was equalized and dangerous control system chemicals were properly drained before the retro-rocket landing system was activated.
“An event like that changes you,” Hague said. “I learned two life lessons from it. The first one is we don’t survive on our own. On that day, Alexey and I were in the capsule, but we relied on the ground team to talk us through the emergency procedures and make sure we did everything correctly. The second thing is, you don’t recover from something like this alone. Getting back, trying to digest what happened and coming back to your loved ones and support network, that’s something that helps you bounce back from a setback like this.”
Airmen can apply Hague’s lessons learned to setbacks they may face here on Earth.
“There are setbacks we all face throughout our lives, and I realized we don’t go through these things on our own, we don’t survive on our own, and we don’t recover on our own,” he said. “That recovery allowed me, 154 days later, to strap into a rocket and give it another try. And this time, it was flawless.”