Expedition Four Commander Yury Onufrienko and Flight Engineers Carl Walz and Dan Bursch undocked the Soyuz 3 capsule from the nadir docking port of the Zarya module of the ISS at 4:16 a.m. Central time (916 GMT) and flew a short distance down the station for a redocking to the Pirs Docking Compartment at 4:37 a.m. Central time (937 GMT) over Central Asia. The station's key systems had been deactivated for the brief flight in the unlikely event Onufrienko could not redock the vehicle.
The Zarya docking port is now free for the arrival of the new Soyuz 4 capsule next Saturday, and a three-man "taxi" crew, Commander Yuri Gidzenko, who was a member of the first resident crew of the ISS, Flight Engineer Roberto Vittori of the European Space Agency and South African space flight participant Mark Shuttleworth. They are scheduled to be launched Thursday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 1:26 a.m. Central time (626 GMT) and will link up to the ISS on April 27 at around 3 a.m. Central time (800 GMT).
The "taxi" crew will spend almost eight days aboard the ISS conducting experiments. A fresh Soyuz is delivered to the station every six months as an assured means of bringing the resident crewmembers home if an emergency forces them to leave the complex.
The Soyuz relocation comes one day after the shuttle Atlantis landed at the Kennedy Space Center to wrap up an 11-day flight which featured four spacewalks to install and activate the 13-ton S-Zero (S0) truss to the ISS. The truss, which is the major backbone for future station construction, is functioning perfectly.
Atlantis' seven astronauts will return from the Kennedy Space Center to Hangar 990 at Ellington Field in Houston near the Johnson Space Center this afternoon for a welcome home ceremony at around 1 p.m. Central time. The public is invited to attend.
All systems aboard the ISS continue to function well as the station orbits at an average altitude of about 245 statute miles.