Space Station Crew Takes Short Soyuz Trip

Space Station Crew Set for Short Soyuz Flight
ISS Expedition 12 commander Bill McArthur and flight engineer Valery Tokarev will take a brief flight aboard their Soyuz spacecraft early March 20, 2006. (Image credit: NASA/JSC.)

Two astronauts flying highabove Earth took a brief trip outside the International Space Station (ISS) earlyMonday aboard a Russian lifeboat.

ISS Expedition12 commander Bill McArthur and flight engineer Valery Tokarev moved theirSoyuz TMA-7 spacecraft between station docking ports in a 22-minute maneuver thatpaves the way for the next station crew's arrival.

"Ah sunrise, that'sbeautiful," McArthur said during the spaceflight.

Answering to the call sign "Sunrise," Tokarev commanded the Soyuz flight as the spacecraft undocked from the Earth-facingdocking port outside the station's Zarya control module.

"We are observingseparation," said Tokarev as the Soyuz left the ISS at 1:49 a.m. EST (0649GMT) while both spacecraft passed over the South Atlantic Ocean.

The Soyuz spacecraftcompleted its 214-foot (65 meter) flight at 2:11 a.m. EST (0711 GMT), when itdocked at the aft end of the station's Zvezda control module while flying over Libya.

"Congratulations,"Russian ISS flight controllers said. "You are the first crew to dock atall the ports on the station."

McArthur and Tokarev arrivedat the ISS in October 2005, when they docked their Soyuz spacecraft at thestation's Russian-built Pirs docking compartment. They movedthe Soyuz to the Zarya control module one month later, clearing Pirs for theRussian Progress20 cargo ship that docked in December.

Relocating the Soyuz TMA-7craft once more to the Zvezda docking port, which until lastmonth was occupied by the Progress19 supply ship, allows the Expedition 12 crew to free up the Zarya berthfor the March 31 arrival of the next ISS crew. Expedition13 commander Pavel Vinogradov, flight engineer Jeffrey Williams and ISSvisitor MarcosPontes, Brazil's first astronaut, are set to launch toward the stationaboard their Soyuz TMA-8 spacecraft on March 29 EST.

McArthur and Tokarev willopen their Soyuz spacecraft's hatch at about 4:55 a.m. EST (0955 GMT) and reenterthe ISS about 40 minutes later before concluding their day at 12:30 p.m. EST(1730 GMT).

The two astronauts arenearing the end of their six-month mission and will return to Earth with Pontesaboard their Soyuz TMA-7 spacecraft in early April.

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Tariq Malik

Tariq is the Editor-in-Chief of and joined the team in 2001, first as an intern and staff writer, and later as an editor. He covers human spaceflight, exploration and space science, as well as skywatching and entertainment. He became's Managing Editor in 2009 and Editor-in-Chief in 2019. Before joining, Tariq was a staff reporter for The Los Angeles Times covering education and city beats in La Habra, Fullerton and Huntington Beach. In October 2022, Tariq received the Harry Kolcum Award for excellence in space reporting from the National Space Club Florida Committee. He is also an Eagle Scout (yes, he has the Space Exploration merit badge) and went to Space Camp four times as a kid and a fifth time as an adult. He has journalism degrees from the University of Southern California and New York University. You can find Tariq at and as the co-host to the This Week In Space podcast with space historian Rod Pyle on the TWiT network. To see his latest project, you can follow Tariq on Twitter @tariqjmalik.