Even in space, you sometimes have to move your vehicle to a different parking spot. Early Friday morning, half of the astronauts on the ISS will move a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to make room for an incoming capsule — occupied by three additional astronauts — scheduled to dock next week.
Two Soyuz capsules are currently docked at the ISS — one at the Poisk module and one at the Rassvet module. The one at the Poisk module is being moved to free up the port, since it’s facing Earth. That makes it the best place to dock for an incoming spacecraft. Cosmonauts Gennady Padalka and Mikhail Kornienko, along with NASA astronaut Scott Kelly will move the Soyuz capsule between 3:12AM ET and 3:37AM ET on Friday. They'll be taking it from the Poisk module to the Zvezda module. If you're up early enough, NASA will live-stream the event beginning at 2:45AM ET.
Next week the ISS gets a little crowded
Next week the ISS gets a little crowded. On Wednesday, September 2nd, three additional crew members will launch from a Soyuz rocket at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Those will be Sergei Volkov of Roscosmos, Andreas Mogensen of the European Space Agency, and Aidyn Aimbetov of the Kazakh Space Agency. They’ll dock at the newly vacant Polsk module, as the third visiting capsule. That also means an unusually large number of astronauts — nine — will be aboard the ISS. That’s pretty close to the limit for the space station; it can only accommodate a total of 10 people.
The space party won't last long, though; Mogensen and Aimbetov are only visiting. Soyuz capsules require three people to fly, so they’ve arrived to help Padalka come home. The three return to Earth on Saturday September 12th. After their exit, the ISS will be operated by the crew members of Expedition 45. You may remember them from their epic Star Wars-themed poster.