Soyuz Capsule Moved To A New Docking Port On The ISS

Crew members aboard the ISS climbed into a docked Soyuz capsule on Friday. A pair of Russian cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut strapped into the capsule to move it to a different docking port aboard the ISS. The currently docked Soyuz capsule was moved to open the docking port for new crewmembers that are arriving at the space station next month.

Russian cosmonaut Commander Sergey Ryzhikov manually controlled the spacecraft during the relocation maneuver. Other crewmembers aboard the capsule during the relocation maneuver included Sergey Kug-Sverchkov and Kate Rubins. The trio of astronauts launched inside the capsule they were relocating in October.

The trio will return to earth aboard the same capsule on April 17. Each crewmember has custom-fit seat liners inside the capsule, and all three were aboard and ready to return to Earth if there were problems with the docking system after the spacecraft was moved. Soyuz MS-17 was undocked from the Russian Rassvet module at 12:38 PM on Thursday. That docking port is on the lower part of the space station facing Earth on the Russian segment.

The commander backed the spacecraft away from the docking module to a distance of about 130 feet. He then performed a fly-around maneuver around the rear of the space station to reach a position above the ISS. He then manually docked the capsule with the Poisk module on the upper part of the station's Russian segment.

The docking occurred at 1:12 PM EDT, and the entire maneuver lasted 34 minutes. During the maneuver, the spacecraft moved at a velocity of about five miles per second. As for why the new crew members couldn't dock using the Poisk module, mission controllers want it to dock with the Rassvet module so that Poisk can be used for a planned spacewalk later this year.