Soyuz Switcheroo: Expedition 69 Trio Preps for Spacecraft Ride Around ISS

Soyuz MS-23 Spacecraft Approaching Space Station

The Soyuz MS-23 spacecraft is seen approaching the Poisk module of the space station prior to docking at 7:58 p.m. EST as the space station was flying 260 miles above northern Mongolia. Credit: NASA TV

Three Expedition 69 crew members had a short day on Wednesday and went to sleep early ahead of the relocation of their Soyuz crew ship on Thursday morning. The rest of the International Space Station (ISS) crew had their hands full throughout the day conducting biology research and packing a cargo craft.

Two Roscosmos cosmonauts and a NASA astronaut will take a short ride around the space station inside the Soyuz MS-23 crew ship relocating it from the Poisk module to the Prichal docking module early Thursday. Commander Sergey Prokopyev will guide the MS-23 to its new docking port flanked by flight engineers Dmitri Petelin and Frank Rubio. The relocation opens up Poisk’s airlock for future Roscosmos spacewalks in Orlan spacesuits and frees its docking port for the upcoming ISS Progress 84 resupply mission.

Astronaut Frank Rubio and Cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin

(From left) NASA astronaut Frank Rubio and Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Prokopyev and Dmitri Petelin will take a short ride around the space station inside the Soyuz MS-23 crew ship. Credit: NASA

The Soyuz vehicle with the three crewmates will undock from Poisk’s space-facing port at 4:45 a.m. EDT on Thursday, maneuver behind and under the space station, then dock to Prichal’s Earth-facing port at 5:23 a.m. After leak and pressure checks are performed, the trio will reenter the orbiting lab, and go to bed early before continuing their space research mission on Friday.

A U.S. space freighter is being packed with cargo ahead of its departure and return to Earth later this month. Rubio and Flight Engineer Sultan Alneyadi of UAE (United Arab Emirates) have begun loading the SpaceX Dragon cargo craft with completed science experiments and used station hardware for retrieval and analysis by scientists and engineers on the ground. Dragon docked to the orbiting lab on March 16 packed with 6,200 pounds of research gear, crew supplies, and other cargo to replenish the station crew.

ISS From SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour Flyaround 2021

The International Space Station is pictured from the SpaceX Crew Dragon Endeavour during a fly-around of the orbiting lab that took place following its undocking from the Harmony module’s space-facing port on November 8, 2021. Credit: NASA Johnson

NASA Flight Engineers Stephen Bowen and Woody Hoburg spent their day on biology research to understand how the human body changes in space. Hundreds of investigations have taken place aboard the orbital outpost since Expedition One to gain increasing knowledge about how humans adapt to long-term weightlessness and learn more effective ways to counteract space-caused symptoms.

Roscosmos Flight Engineer Andrey Fedyaev participated in a pair of heart studies and a crew behavior experiment on Wednesday. The first-time space flyer first completed a 24-hour session that monitored his heart activity and blood pressure. Afterward, he attached sensors to himself for another study observing his blood circulation. In the afternoon, Fedyaev submitted his answers to a questionnaire to learn how international crews and mission controllers from around the world communicate. Fedyaev will also be up early on Thursday assisting and monitoring his crewmates during their Soyuz relocation maneuver.

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