The quick Expedition 11 foray began with undocking from the Pirs Docking Compartment at 5:38 a.m. CDT while the Station flew above the Atlantic just east of the southern tip of South America. Redocking to the nearby Zarya Module's nadir, or Earth-facing, docking port occurred at 6:08 a.m. CDT over Central Asia.
Krikalev, seated in the center seat of the Soyuz descent module, guided the spacecraft as it backed away from Pirs to a distance of about 82 feet. With Phillips on his left, Krikalev commanded the Soyuz to fly laterally along the Station about 45 feet, then rotated the capsule to align it with the Zarya's docking port. After 14 minutes of stationkeeping, the crew began final approach and completed the linkup. Minutes later, hooks and latches in the two docking mechanisms established a firm connection between Soyuz and Zarya. After a series of leak checks, the crew was scheduled to re-enter the Station shortly after 8 a.m. to reconfigure its systems for normal operations.
The move clears the Pirs airlock for a spacewalk by Krikalev and Phillips in August. Among the tasks planned for that spacewalk are removal of materials exposure experiments, installation of a television camera for the European Space Agency's cargo-carrying Automated Transfer Vehicle and relocation of a cargo boom adapter.
The Soyuz is the crew's ride home at the end of its six-month stay on the orbiting laboratory and would serve as a lifeboat in the event of a Station evacuation.
The crew will begin its sleep period at mid-afternoon today and wake up early Wednesday for a day off, with only exercise and a few routine housekeeping activities scheduled.