The traffic bottleneck is going to hit the International Space Station also. This week the population of the ISS will become nine and its crew had to move the Russian Transport Vehicle to a different dock to create space for the new arrivals to the station.
The Expedition 37 comprises of six members and three members entered the Soyuz TMA -09 to transfer the vehicle from the Rassvet cargo and docking module to the Zvezda service module which has another Russian docking port on the other side of the station. The process lasted for nearly 21 minutes and started at 4.33 AM. EDT.
The vehicle was commanded by Russia’s Fyodor Yurchikhin and featured NASA astronaut Karen Nyberg and European Space Agency astronaut Luca Parmitano as fellow passengers. These kinds of maneuvers requires the Soyuz to have three members in the eventuality of anything going wrong NASA wants to preserve the option of making an early return to Earth with a full crew on board.
The procedure made way for three new crew members who will arrive in November 7 and will comprise of 11M Russian commander Mikhail Tyurin, NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio and Koichi Wakata, of the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency. The crew will be blasted off a Soyuz TMA-11M rocket and will dock with the Rassvet port six hours after launching from Kazakhstan.
It is for the first time that so many people will be living in the ISS since October 2009 without the services of the Space Shuttle. The Space Shuttle was used to transport Six to Seven astronauts to the ISS for brief interludes. On an average the Space Station is manned by three to six people at a time.
Interestingly the Soyuz will also feature the Olympic torch as a part of the Olympic torch relay program. Two days after docking with the ISS, the Russian Cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy will take it outside the station as part of a spacewalk.
The torch will be brought back to earth by Yurchikhin, Nyberg and Parmitano on November 10th when they return home after a five month stint on board the ISS. Yurchikhin was at the controls the last time a Soyuz moved ports on the station