It is taking shape as a busy month aboard the International Space Station (ISS), with more aircraft arriving to join an aircraft crew. To prepare for the arrival of an impending flight, this week the crew was to take a currently docked Soyuz craft with the ISS on an extremely short trip to the other side of the station.
The ISS has various ports on its module, including docking ships, which is useful as the craft is often required to remain docked for months after their arrival. Currently docked with the station is a Russian Soyuz MS-17, which arrived in October last year and carried three astronauts: NASA’s Kate Rubins and Roskosmos’s Sergei Reznikov and Sergei Kud-Severchkov.
Now, another Soyuz is scheduled to arrive in early April. Soyuz will take three more astronauts, NASA’s Mark Vande-Hei and Oleg Novitzki and Roshim Dubrov of Roscosmos to join the MS-18 crew. But the MS-18 rossit module is to be docked at the earth-facing port, which the MS-17 occupied.
So on Friday, 19 March, the current crew members of the ISS moved the MS-17 from their current location to the Poisk port leading to space. The operation started at 12:38 pm ET and was completed by 1:12 pm, as all it needed was a little hope.
While such maneuvers have been common, with a total of 18 transfers occurring in the past, they have often not been necessary in recent years. According to NASA, the last such exercise took place in August 2019.
With the arrival of three new astronauts, the ISS will be exceptionally busy with 10 crew members. However this will not be for long, as on April 17, Rubins, Ryaznikov and Kud-Siewarchkov will return to the same Soyuz MS-17, which took them to the ISS and which they had just moved to return to their own land did.
This new expedition will leave Wande-Hei, Novitzki and Dubrov as current members of the 65 crew along with current crew members Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Soichi Noguchi and Shannon Walker.