Orbital Do-Si-Do Begins As ISS Prepares for Three Crews at Once

Orbital Do-Si-Do Begins As ISS Prepares for Three Crews at Once

Usually there are six people aboard the International Space Station (ISS) at one time, though periodically it dips to three during crew rotation cycles.   Next week, however, it will jump to nine as three three-person crews are there at the same time.   The current crew will shuffle spacecraft from one port to another tomorrow to make room for everyone.

Today, there are three Russians, two Americans and one European aboard.   NASA’s Karen Nyberg, the European Space Agency’s Luca Parmitano, and Russia’s Fyodor Yurchikhin are one crew and tomorrow they will climb into their Soyuz TMA-09M spacecraft and move it from one docking port (Rassvet) to one at the other end of ISS.  The 24 minute ride begins at 4:34 am Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).  That opens up Rassvet for a crew that will arrive next week.

Three other crewmembers already are aboard: NASA’s Michael Hopkins and Russia’s Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy.  They arrived last month.

On Wednesday, November 6, NASA’s Rick Mastracchio, Japan’s Koichi Wakata and Russia’s Mikhail Tyurin will launch to ISS on Soyuz TMA-11M.   Among their cargo is the Olympic Torch, which is on its way to Sochi, Russia for the Winter Olympics.  They will launch at 11:14 pm Eastern STANDARD Time (EST) on Wednesday night (10:14 am November 7 local time at the launch site in Kazakhstan).  As is becoming common, that crew is taking the expedited route to ISS, docking four orbits after launch at the Rassvet port.  Docking is scheduled for 5:31 am EST Wednesday.

That will bring to nine the number of crew aboard the ISS.  Although it was common to have a large number of crew aboard the ISS while the space shuttle was docked, NASA says this is the first time since 2009 when so many have been aboard without a space shuttle present. 

Kotov and Ryazanskiy will take the Olympic Torch outside the ISS on a spacewalk on November 9.   Nyberg, Parmitano and Yurchikhin will bring it back to Earth when they return the next day. 

As always, NASA TV will cover all these events live.   A NASA press release provides all the relevant times.   (For those trying to keep track of time zones, most of the United States changes from Daylight Saving Time to Standard Time at 2:00 am Sunday, November 3.)


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