Astronauts Complete 1st Port Relocation of SpaceX Crew Dragon on ISS Ahead of Busy Month of Arrivals

Astronauts Complete 1st Port Relocation of SpaceX Crew Dragon on ISS
The SpaceX Crew Dragon is pictured after undocking from the forward port on the Harmony module of the ISS beginning its short trip to the space-facing port on April 5, 2021. Credit: NASA TV

For SpaceUpClose.com & RocketSTEM

CAPE CANAVERAL, FL –  A four person team of astronauts successfully completed the first relocation of a SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft from one port to another one nearby on the International Space Station (ISS) in a flawless maneuver carried out early this morning, Monday, April 5, while orbiting above Earth to ready the orbiting outpost for a busy month of arrivals and departures.

To prepare for the relocation the SpaceX Crew-1 mission astronauts comprising NASA astronauts Michael HopkinsVictor Glover, and Shannon Walker, along with Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut Soichi Noguchi, first put on the spacesuits and then boarded Crew Dragon Resilience – the same ship in which they launched to the ISS nearly 6 months ago in November 2020.

The SpaceX Crew Dragon spacecraft, with its nose cone open, is pictured docked to the Harmony module’s forward international docking adapter

The efficient swap out of docking ports marked another important first for a US commercial crew spacecraft at the ISS and opens the way to a multitude of comings and goings every week this month by both NASA SpaceX Crew Dragon and Russian Soyuz spaceships.

After giving the command to fire the crafts Draco thrusters Crew Dragon Resilience autonomously undocked from the forward port of the station’s Harmony module at 6:30 a.m. EDT (1030 GMT) while flying 263 miles (400 km) over the Atlantic Ocean and the crew pulled away to a distance of about 60 meters (200 ft).

“The @SpaceX  Crew Dragon undocked from Harmony’s forward-facing port at 6:30am ET while flying 263 miles over the Atlantic ocean. The vehicle will now relocate to the space-facing port for a docking scheduled at 7:15am,” NASA tweeted with video.

After a brief fly around of the station they commanded the re-approach autonomously and re-docked to the International Space Station and relocated to the space-facing (zenith) port at 7:08 a.m. EDT.

 

The entire trip lasted just 38 minutes but accomplished a critical task by vacating and opening up the forward port for arrival of the next Crew Dragon astronaut team.

All four Crew-1 Dragon crew members had to be on board for the short trip in case of problems redocking and an unplanned early return to Earth

NASA astronauts Shane Kimbrough and  Megan McArthur, JAXA astronaut Aki Hoshide, and ESA (European Space Agency) astronaut Thomas Pesquet are scheduled to launch to the station Thursday, April 22, on the Crew-2 mission from Launch Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Crew-2  will dock at the forward port on Harmony after they arrive at the ISS in late April for a new six month stay.

There will be a brief overlap of the two NASA SpaceX crews and handover from Crew-1 to Crew-2 before Crew-1 departs on April 28.

Meanwhile the next Soyuz crew is set to launch to the ISS later this week on April 9 from Baikonur Cosmodrome

The Soyuz trio includes NASA astronaut Mark Vande Hei.

Watch my commentary about the purpose and importance of the port swap in todays story at WFTV ABC 9 Orlando TV News:

https://www.wftv.com/news/too-many-ships-not-enough-ports-nasa-making-room-orbit-busy-month-space-coast/9be233a6-bea3-4a58-baa8-a01bf8c5a618/

Dr Ken Kremer of Space UpClose interview on WFTV ABC 9 TV News Orlando about Crew Dragon relocation on April 5, 2021

Watch for Ken’s continuing live and onsite reporting from KSC about the Crew missions.

Watch Ken’s continuing reports about Artemis and NASA missions, SLS, Orion, SpaceX, Starlink, Commercial Crew and Starliner and Crew Dragon and onsite for live reporting of upcoming and recent SpaceX and ULA launches including Crew 1 & 2, Demo-2, ISS, X-37B, Solar Orbiter, Mars 2020 Perseverance and Curiosity rovers, NRO spysats and national security missions and more at the Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Space Force Station.

Stay tuned here for Ken’s continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news: www.kenkremer.com –www.spaceupclose.com – twitter @ken_kremer – email: ken at kenkremer.com

Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics.
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Mission specialist Shannon Walker, left, pilot Victor Glover, Crew Dragon commander Michael Hopkins – all NASA astronauts – and Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA) astronaut and mission specialist Soichi Noguchi, right, will launch to the International Space Station on the agency’s SpaceX Crew-1 mission. Credit: NASA/SpaceX

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Ken Kremer

Ken Kremer

Watch for Ken’s continuing onsite coverage of NASA, SpaceX, ULA, Boeing, Lockheed Martin, Northrop Grumman and more space and mission reports direct from Kennedy Space Center and Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida and Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia. Stay tuned here for Ken's continuing Earth and Planetary science and human spaceflight news. Dr. Kremer is a research scientist and journalist based in the KSC area, active in outreach and interviewed regularly on TV and radio about space topics. Ken’s photos are for sale and he is available for lectures and outreach events.

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