Expedition 11 Commander Sergei Krikalev and Flight Engineer John Phillips left the Space Station today and moved their Soyuz spacecraft from one docking port to another.
Image above: With Expedition 11 Commander Sergei Krikalev at the controls, the Soyuz vehicle flies toward the Zarya module's docking port. Credit: NASA
The Soyuz moved away from the Pirs Docking Compartment at 6:38 a.m. EDT, while the Station flew above the Atlantic Ocean east of the southern tip of South America. Redocking to the Zarya Module's Earth-facing port occurred at 7:08 a.m. EDT, over Central Asia.
Krikalev guided the Soyuz as it backed away about 82 feet from Pirs. Krikalev commanded the Soyuz to fly laterally along the Station about 45 feet and rotated it to align with the Zarya’s docking port. Hooks and latches in the two docking mechanisms established a firm connection between the Soyuz and Zarya. The crew re-entered the Station at 8:20 a.m. EDT, to reconfigure systems for normal operations.
The move cleared the Pirs airlock for an August spacewalk. During the walk, Krikalev and Phillips will remove materials exposure experiments, install a television camera for the European Space Agency’s cargo-carrying Automated Transfer Vehicle and relocate a cargo boom adapter.
The Soyuz will be used to bring the crew home at the end of its six-month mission and could also serve as a lifeboat in the event of a Station evacuation.
Explore further: Heavy metal frost? A new look at a Venusian mystery