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Soyuz switches ports on International Space Station

Posted: November 1, 2013

Three space station crew members put on spacesuits and boarded their Soyuz spacecraft Friday for a short trip to relocate the capsule to a new docking port on the orbiting outpost, clearing the way for the arrival of three new residents next week.

Credit: NASA TV/Spaceflight Now
The short venture outside the spacecraft began at 0833 GMT (4:33 a.m. EDT) with undocking of the Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft from the space station's Rassvet mini-research module.

With veteran cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin at the controls, the Soyuz backed away more than 500 feet from the complex and flew to the aft side of the massive complex to line up with a docking port on the Zvezda service module.

Yurchikhin, along with crewmates Karen Nyberg and Luca Parmitano, docked the spacecraft to Zvezda at 0854 GMT (4:54 a.m. EDT), completing the flyaround a few minutes ahead of schedule.

After hooks closed to complete a mechanical connection between the Soyuz and space station, a couple of hours of pressure leak checks were on tap before the trio of astronauts and cosmonauts was scheduled to open hatches and board the outpost.

The space station's other three astronauts - Oleg Kotov, Sergei Ryazansky and Michael Hopkins - stayed inside the complex during the Soyuz relocation maneuver, which was the first of its kind since 2010.

The relocation of Soyuz TMA-09M clears the Rassvet docking port for the arrival of the Soyuz TMA-11M spacecraft Nov. 7.

Soyuz TMA-11M and its three occupants - Mikhail Tyurin, Rick Mastracchio and Koichi Wakata - are at the Baikonur Cosmodrome preparing for launch Nov. 7 at 0414 GMT (11:14 p.m. EST). After a quick chase of the space station, docking is scheduled for 1031 GMT (5:31 a.m. EST) to temporarily boost the lab's crew size to nine.

Yurchikhin, Nyberg and Parmitano are due to depart the complex for good Nov. 10 and head for landing on the steppes of Kazakhstan to close out a 166-day mission.

The upcoming crew exchange will include the arrival of the Olympic torch, which is flying to the space station to celebrate the 2014 Winter Olympics to be held in February in Sochi, Russia.

Read our story on the torch for more details.

Follow Stephen Clark on Twitter: @StephenClark1.