Even though they’ll be traveling at five miles a second and flying independently for about 40 minutes, they won’t be going very far.
Space station Commander Bill McArthur and Cosmonaut Valery Tokarev will move their Soyuz TMA spacecraft from the station’s Pirs docking compartment to the Earth-facing port of the Zarya module on Friday.
The move is being made to clear Pirs, which also serves as an airlock, for a spacewalk by Tokarev and McArthur in Russian spacesuits on Dec. 7.
The Soyuz is scheduled to undock from Pirs about 3:40 a.m. EST. The station crewmembers, wearing their Russian Sokol launch and entry suits, are scheduled to reach Zarya’s nadir docking port at about 4:20 a.m.
Preparations for the move begin Thursday with McArthur and Tokarev putting station systems in unmanned configuration. That is done to prepare for the unlikely eventuality that the Soyuz could not redock at the station. If that were to occur, the crew would have to return to Earth.
Live NASA television coverage of the move is scheduled to begin at 3 a.m. EST. It will continue until shortly after the Soyuz docks with Zarya.