The 30-minute maneuver cleared Zvezda's docking port for the arrival of an unmanned Russian Progress resupply cargo craft on Wednesday, carrying supplies for the next trio of space travelers who will live and work aboard the Station beginning next month.
With Gidzenko at the controls, the Soyuz backed away from the Station at 4:06 a.m. Central time, as Gidzenko maneuvered the capsule to a distance of about 300 feet away from Zvezda. He then flew the Soyuz about 45 degrees around the complex to align the ship with Zarya's docking port. After a brief stationkeeping period to insure that all systems were functioning normally, Gidzenko flew his craft in for a linkup to Zarya at 4:37 a.m. Central time as the Soyuzand the ISS flew high over Central Europe.
It was the first time since the Expedition One crew arrived at the Station last November 2 that the ISS had been unoccupied, albeit for a brief period.
The crew was to spend the next several hours reopening hatches between the Soyuz and the Station and reactivating key environmental and communications systems on board which had been shut down last night in the unlikely event Gidzenko would have been unable to redock, forcing the crew to come home. Shepherd, Gidzenko and Krikalev will begin an extended sleep period this afternoon and will be awakened on Sunday morning for a relatively light day of activities.
The Progress launch is scheduled on Monday at 2:09 a.m. Central time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstzan, with docking to the Zvezda module planned for early Wednesday at 3:48 a.m. Central time. The crew will spend the rest of the week unloading the Progress in preparation for the launch of the Shuttle Discovery March 8 to ferry their replacements, the Expedition Two crew, to orbit.
Orbiting the Earth at an average altitude of 235 statute miles, the International Space Station is operating in excellent condition.