Marking another first for a commercial crew spacecraft, four residents of the International Space Station (ISS) took a spin around their orbital neighborhood in the Crew Dragon Resilience spacecraft, moving from one docking port to another April 5, according to a press release by NASA.
Crew Dragon Resilience, NASA astronauts Michael Hopkins, Victor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, have re-docked to the ISS.
This kick-starts a busy month for the ISS, with many spacecraft arrivals and departures on the horizon.
NASA Television, the NASA app, provided live coverage as the four occupants of the ISS relocated with the goal of preparing for the arrival of the next set of commercial crew astronauts.
At 6:30 a.m. EDT, Crew Dragon, with four astronauts on board, autonomously undocked from the front port of the ISS' Harmony module and moved out 197 feet (60 meters) from the station, and then relocated to the space-facing port at 7:08 a.m.
Dragon has re-docked with the @Space_Station, completing its first-ever port relocation flight and making way for arrival of the Crew-2 Dragon in a few weeks, as well as the CRS-22 Dragon this summer https://t.co/au9pr9Wf3z— SpaceX (@SpaceX) April 5, 2021
"SpaceX, Houston, from Resilience, congratulations on a successful port relocation," said Astronaut Michael Hopkins from the Crew Dragon spacecraft. "We’ve got leak checks to go, but a great capability that’s going to really enhance the options up here for the International Space Station, so congratulations."
This re-docking was needed to clear the way for the arrival of another SpaceX Crew Dragon carrying replacement crew later this month and SpaceX Cargo Dragon which will bring a new set of solar arrays to the ISS this summer.
What's the next move?
SpaceX's upcoming Crew-2 flight, which will be carrying NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and Megan McArthur, JAXA astronaut Aki Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet, is scheduled for Thursday, April 22, from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida, for a six-month stay. You can meet the four astronauts who will be hitching a ride on SpaceX's Crew Dragon spacecraft atop a Falcon 9 rocket here.
According to NASA, Crew-1 NASA Astronauts will be returning home about five days after the Crew-2 arrival to the ISS if "mission priorities and weather cooperate."
The ISS will see two launches and two landings by four U.S. and Russian spacecraft this month