Colonel Nick Hague Sets a Bold Example as the First US Space Force Guardian to Launch into Space – US Space Force Association
US Space Force Association
portrait of Col. Nick Hague
Colonel Nick Hague (USSF)

In space exploration, milestones are more than just markers of progress; they symbolize humanity’s collective ambition and dedication to push the boundaries of our understanding. Recently, in a historic moment, Colonel Nick Hague (USSF) emerged as a trailblazer, poised to etch his name in the annals of space history as the first Space Force Guardian to embark on a journey to the International Space Station (ISS).

During a roundtable discussion at Peterson Space Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colonel Hague, a distinguished astronaut and USSF Guardian, shared insights into his upcoming mission. The event, attended by journalists, offered a glimpse into the preparations and aspirations driving this groundbreaking venture.

Col. Hague’s journey into the cosmos is not merely a personal feat but a testament to the collaborative spirit between NASA and the newly established United States Space Force (USSF). As a seasoned astronaut with previous spaceflight experience, Col. Hague brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to the mission, poised to showcase the vital role of Guardians in exploring space.

The space domain, once considered a benign environment, is now a contested domain with the USSF charged to ensure freedom of action in the domain.  Like what the Navy, Army and Air Force do for the maritime, land and air domains.  Col Hague is uniquely positioned as both a NASA astronaut and a USSF Guardian to provide perspective on the critical need for freedom of action in the space domain for current and future civil and private space exploration.

Reflecting on the significance of his upcoming mission, Colonel Hague underscored the importance of fostering a culture of inclusion and diversity within the Space Force. “I hope they (Guardians) see themselves,” he remarked, emphasizing the need for aspiring Guardians to seize opportunities in the astronaut program. With the application window open, Col. Hague’s message serves as a clarion call to all who dare to dream of venturing beyond the confines of Earth.

“Do you still have the butterflies when you launch?” an interviewer inquired, probing Hague’s psyche as he prepared for his third journey into space. “This is your third time on a rocket.”  In response, Col. Hague eloquently elucidated the unyielding risks inherent in space exploration, juxtaposing the thrill of launch with the ever-present specter of uncertainty. “It’s space, and this is a risky business,” Hague acknowledged, “But we manage that risk as best we can.”

As Col. Hague delved deeper into the intricacies of spaceflight, he shed light on the exhaustive training regimen undertaken to prepare for the mission. “We train for everything that we can envision going wrong,” he explained, illustrating the meticulous preparations aimed at mitigating potential challenges. Col. Hague partially explained the mission as training to support the new Sierra Space’s Dream Chaser transport. The first step involves reaching out with a robotic arm and capturing the Dream Chaser. Training for the robotic arm is primarily at Johnson Space Center. The team is in Colorado training because of the high-fidelity mock-up. The Dream Chaser is used to bring up supplies and scientific experiments. According to Col Hague, “It’s a new vehicle. There will be some learning, so we need to ensure we understand where those learning points might be.” Col. Hague emphasized the importance of remaining vigilant and adaptable in adversity from launch to orbit.

Col. Hague spoke about the forthcoming celebration of the Space Force’s 5th birthday in December—a poignant milestone in the history of space exploration. “When I think about things that are going to happen while I’m out there, we’re going to have our 5th birthday as a Space Force,” he said, underscoring the occasion’s significance. He continued, highlighting the camaraderie and solidarity shared among members of the Space Force community.

In addressing a question about the support provided to astronauts’ families, Col. Hague spoke of NASA’s robust efforts to ensure the well-being of loved ones. “NASA does a phenomenal job of supporting the whole person, especially as that extends to the family,” he affirmed. “The support team recognizes that we’re launching people into space, and those people have families,” Hague emphasized the resources available to bolster the resilience of astronauts and their families, highlighting the comprehensive approach taken to address the stresses associated with space travel.

As the countdown to launch draws nearer, Colonel Nick Hague stands on the precipice of history, poised to embark on a journey that will provide valuable insights and scientific advancements in space and inspire future generations to reach for the stars. With courage as his compass and determination as his fuel, Hague’s mission symbolizes the indomitable spirit of exploration that propels humanity ever closer to the cosmos.

Col. Hague provided insights into the objectives and challenges awaiting him aboard the International Space Station (ISS). “Currently, the plan is always in flux,” Hague remarked, acknowledging the dynamic nature of space exploration. Amidst the ever-evolving landscape of space missions, Hague outlined a series of planned upgrades and spacewalks to enhance the ISS’s functionality. “There is a planned upgrade, a continuation of the spacewalks that we’ve been undertaking to upgrade the solar panels,” he explained. Installing mounting hardware for new solar arrays is a pivotal task on the agenda, underscoring NASA’s commitment to advancing the station’s capabilities.

Reflecting on the prospect of conducting spacewalks, Col. Hague conveyed a sense of awe and wonder that permeates the experience. “Going out the hatch… it’s pretty magical,” he mused, recounting the exhilarating sensation of floating above the Earth’s surface. As the airlock hatch swings open, revealing the vast space below, Col. Hague finds himself enveloped in a surreal panorama. “You look down, and you see the Earth, bathed in light, 250 miles below,” he described, capturing the profound sense of perspective afforded by space travel.

For Hague, the allure of space exploration traces back to his childhood dreams, fueling a lifelong passion for discovery. “It’s all those things I dreamed of when I was five years old,” he confessed, reflecting on the journey that led him to space. From gazing at the stars to traversing the celestial realm at five miles per second, Hague’s odyssey embodies the spirit of exploration and the boundless curiosity that propels humanity ever closer to the stars.

Reflecting on his extensive history of working in space, Hague was prompted to consider the most significant advancements and improvements he has witnessed during his career. “That’s a big one,” he acknowledged, recognizing the magnitude of the question.

In response, Hague articulated a profound belief in the power of international collaboration as the cornerstone of success in space exploration. “What underpins our success on the International Space Station is that it’s international,” he emphasized. Over the past 23 years, the ISS has been a beacon of cooperation, fostering unity among nations and transcending geopolitical boundaries in pursuit of scientific discovery.

“We all come from different cultures and backgrounds,” Hague reflected, recalling cherished moments spent with fellow astronauts worldwide. Whether conversing in broken English, Russian, or Italian, the diverse crew members found common ground in their shared aspirations and values. “Ultimately, we’re all people,” Hague observed, noting the universal desire to nurture families and support loved ones.

Yet, according to Col. Hague, this diversity enriches the collaborative environment aboard the ISS. “Those differences are significant,” he asserted, highlighting the value of varied perspectives and experiences. Far from being a hindrance, diversity strengthens the team, equipping it with a wealth of insights and approaches to problem-solving.

As humanity ventures further into space, Col. Hague believes such collaborative efforts will be indispensable. “Space is hard,” he acknowledged, underscoring the formidable challenges ahead. Only by working together, he stressed, can nations overcome the obstacles that await beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

In the days leading up to launch, Colonel Nick Hague stands poised to make history again, leaving an indelible mark on the annals of space exploration. With courage as his guide and collaboration as his compass, he ventures into the unknown, carrying with him the hopes and aspirations of a global community united in the pursuit of knowledge and discovery. As he gazes upon the Earth from the vantage point of the ISS, he embodies the spirit of exploration and the promise of a brighter tomorrow.

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