Skip to main content

International Space Station astronauts do a Soyuz shuffle

The Soyuz MS-17 crew ship, with three Expedition 64 crew members inside, is pictured after undocking from the Rassvet module beginning its short trip to the Poisk module.
The Soyuz MS-17 crew ship, with three Expedition 64 crew members inside, is pictured after undocking from the Rassvet module beginning its short trip to the Poisk module. NASA TV

This is shaping up to be a busy month on the International Space Station (ISS) with a craft arriving to drop off more astronauts to join the crew. To prepare for the arrival of an incoming flight, this week the crew had to take a Soyuz craft currently docked with the ISS on an extremely short trip around to the other side of the station.

The ISS has various ports on its modules to which visiting ships can dock, which is useful as craft often need to remain docked for months after their arrival. Currently docked with the station is a Russian Soyuz MS-17, which arrived in October last year and carried three astronauts: NASA’s Kate Rubins and Roscosmos’s Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov.

Now, a second Soyuz is set to arrive in early April. The Soyuz MS-18 will carry three more astronauts, NASA’s Mark Vande-Hei and Roscosmos’s Oleg Novitsky and Pyotr Dubrov, to join the crew. But the MS-18 is to dock on the Earth-facing port on the Rassvet module, which the MS-17 was occupying.

So on Friday, March 19, current ISS crew members moved the MS-17 from its current location to the space-facing Poisk port. The operation began at 12:38 p.m. ET and was completed by 1:12 p.m., as it required just a very small hop.

Although such maneuvers have been common, with a total of 18 relocations happening in the past, they have not often been necessary in recent years. According to NASA, the last time such a maneuver occurred was August 2019.

With the arrival of the three new astronauts, the ISS will be exceptionally busy with a total of 10 crew members on board. This won’t be for long though, as on April 17 Rubins, Ryzhikov, and Kud-Sverchkov will head back into the same Soyuz MS-17 which carried them to the ISS and which they just relocated for their trip back to Earth.

This will leave Vande-Hei, Novitsky, and Dubrov along with current crew members Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, Soichi Noguchi, and Shannon Walker, as the seven members of the new Expedition 65 crew.

Editors' Recommendations

Georgina Torbet
Georgina is the Digital Trends space writer, covering human space exploration, planetary science, and cosmology. She…
NASA astronauts need good weather for Crew-8 launch. Here’s how it’s looking
A SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket during a static fire test.

UPDATE: SpaceX and NASA are now targeting 11:16 p.m. ET on Saturday, March 2 for the launch of Crew-8.

SpaceX is preparing to launch three NASA astronauts and one Roscosmos cosmonaut to the International Space Station (ISS).

Read more
Astronaut captures stunning images of a snowy Grand Canyon
A snow-covered Grand Canyon seen from space.

In the final days of his six-month stint aboard the International Space Station (ISS), Danish astronaut Andreas Mogensen took some time out of his science work to snap some striking photos of a snow-covered Grand Canyon.

The images were captured from the station in recent days as it orbited Earth at an altitude of around 250 miles.

Read more
Crew-8 astronauts head into quarantine ahead of Space Station launch
Members of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 from right to left, NASA astronauts Jeanette Epps, mission specialist; Matthew Dominick, commander; Michael Barratt, pilot; and Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, mission specialist; participate in the Crew Equipment Interface Test at Cape Canaveral Space Force Station in Florida on Friday, Jan. 12, 2024.

The next set of astronauts due to visit the International Space Station, known as Crew-8, have now entered quarantine ahead of their launch scheduled for early March. The launch date for the Crew-8 mission was recently pushed back by a week to allow for the launch of the Intuitive Machines lunar mission. Now, NASA astronauts Matthew Dominick, Michael Barratt, and Jeanette Epps, plus Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, will spend two weeks in isolation ahead of their launch at Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Members of NASA’s SpaceX Crew-8 from left: Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Grebenkin, mission specialist; and NASA astronauts Michael Barratt, pilot; Matthew Dominick, commander; and Jeanette Epps, mission specialist.  SpaceX

Read more