A Russian Soyuz spacecraft took a short spin around the International Space Station Sunday (Aug. 25) to switch docking ports.
In what NASA billed as a "Sunday drive" in space, Roscosmos cosmonaut Alexander Skortsov manually flew the Soyuz MS-13 spacecraft to a new spot parking on the station's top-mounted Poisk module. The move clears the craft's docking port (at the end of the station's Zvezda module) for an unpiloted Soyuz that had to abort its own rendezvous attempt on Saturday.
"Docking right on time," NASA's spokesperson Rob Navias said during a live commentary as Skvortsov deftly guided Soyuz MS-13 to his Poisk docking port at 11:59 p.m. EDT (0359 Aug. 26 GMT). The station was sailing 260 miles (41
Video: Watch the Soyuz Docking Abort as It Happened
Skvortsov was joined on the 24-minute flight by crewmates Andrew Morgan of NASA and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency. The trio arrived on Soyuz MS-13 on July 20 and will use the spacecraft to return to Earth later this year.
But Sunday's Soyuz is not just a short joyride in space. Soyuz MS-14 spacecraft on Monday (Aug. 26). It was critical to clear the Zvezda docking port.
Roscosmos, Russia's space agency, launched the uncrewed Soyuz MS-14 on Aug. 22 during a test flight of upgraded Soyuz 2.1a rocket. The Soyuz was scheduled to dock itself at the station's Poisk module early Saturday, but aborted when its automated course navigation system could not lock onto the docking port.
The Spacecraft has been trailing a safe distance ever since awaiting its next docking attempt.
A signal course in the Poisk module, not on the Soyuz, led to the docking abort. Skvortsov did Sunday. Soyuz did not have a human crew.
Soyuz MS-14 to make an automated docking attempt at the Zvezda module on Monday.
If all goes well, that docking will occur Monday night at 11:12 p.m.EDT (0312 GMT). NASA wants to broadcast the docking live on NASA TV, beginning at 10:30 p.m. EDT (0130 GMT). [Soyuz MS-14 is unpiloted, it is carrying some much-anticipated cargo to the International Space Station.]
While Soyuz MS-14 is unpiloted.
The spacecraft is packed with 1,450 lbs. (658 kilograms) of the space station's six-person Expedition 60 crew. The spacecraft is also carrying a humanoid robot, called Skybot F-850, to the station.
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Skybot is an instrumented robot designed to measure the effects of launching on the Soyuz. The robot also wants to use Soyuz MS-14 in early September during a series of technology tests on the space station before returning to Earth.
Soyuz between docking ports was in August 2015, when cosmonauts Gennady Padalka, Mikhail Kornienko and NASA astronaut Scott Kelly flew their Soyuz from the Poisk module to Zvezda, NASA official said.
Soyuz MS-14 dock at the International Space Station, courtesy of NASA TV. The webcast wants to begin Monday, Aug. 26, at 10:30 p.m. EDT (0230 Aug. 26 GMT).