CAPE CANAVERAL - A U.S. astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut will board the emergency lifeboat at theInternational Space Station (ISS) early Monday, flying the Soyuz spacecraft toa port at the rear end of outpost crew quarters.
The 35-minute move willclear an Earth-facing port on the station's Zarya module for the upcomingarrival of a replacement crew. It also will be a first step in preparation ofthe arrival of a Russian Progress cargo carrier in late April.
Strapped into the Soyuz andwearing partial-pressure launch-and-entry suits, station skipper BillMcArthur and flight engineer Valery Tokarev will undock from the Zaryamodule about 1:45 a.m. Eastern time (0645 GMT).
Kylie Clem, a spokeswomanfor NASA's Johnson Space Center in Houston, said the Soyuz will be piloted to apoint 80 (24 meters) to 100 feet (30 meters) below the station. The spacecraftthen will be flown to a point about the same distance behind the station,traveling about 200 feet (60 meters) in the process.
With Tokarev at thecontrols, the Soyuz then will make a final approach to the port at the back endthe station's Zvezda module, which is a Russian command-and-control center thatdoubles as crew quarters.
Clem said the move willfree up the Zarya port for the March 31 arrival of a Soyuz with the Expedition13 crew, which includes commander Pavel Vinogradov and flight engineerJeffrey Williams.
The two are scheduled tolaunch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on March 29 with Marcos Pontes,who will become the first Brazilian to fly in space. Pontes will spend abouteight days aboard the station before returning to Earth on April 8 withMcArthur and Tokarev.
The returning crew willpull away from the station in the Soyuz that will be parked at the aft end ofthe Zvezda module. Doing so will open that port for a Russian Progressfreighter to be launched April 24. Its anticipated arrival date is April 26.
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CompleteCoverage: ISS Expedition 12