Russian, European and U. S. astronauts relocated their Soyuz TMA-09M crew transport capsule at the International Space Station early Friday to make room for the arrival of three replacements next week.
Fyodor Yurchikhin, Luca Parmitano and Karen Nyberg were away from the station for just 21 minutes as they maneuvered the TMA-09M from the Rassvet berthing port to the Zvezda module, redocking at 4:54 a.m., EDT.
NASA illustration shows path of Friday's Soyuz crew transport relocation.
The move clears the way for Mikhail Tyurin, Rick Mastracchio and Koichi Wakata, a Russian, U. S. and Japanese crew, to lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan late Wednesday in their Soyuz TMA-11M for a scheduled docking at the Rassvet port on Thursday at 5:31 a.m., ET.
The newcomers will be accompanied by a symbolic Olympic torch that made its way from Olympia, Greece to the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for the launch.
At the space station, the unlit torch will accompany cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy during a Nov. 9 spacewalk.
Yurchikhin, Parmitano and Nyberg will tranport the torch back to Earth as they descend in their Soyuz capsule to remote Kazakhstan on Nov. 10, landing under parachute just before 10 p.m., ET, after 5 ½ months in orbit.
The space torch will be used to ignite the Olympic flame as the 2014 Winter Games get under way in February in Sochi, Russia.