Space station crew to redock spaceship

/ Source: The Associated Press

The American-Russian crew manning the international space station will redock a spaceship later this month in preparation for spacewalks planned for next year, Russian Mission Control said Friday.

The operation, scheduled for Nov. 29, will involve entering the Soyuz-TMA-5 spaceship and moving it from the Pirs docking compartment to the Zarya service module, said Mission Control spokesman Valery Lyndin. Russian cosmonaut Salizhan Sharipov and U.S. astronaut Leroy Chiao will use manual controls to move the Soyuz 100-165 feet away from the station and then re-approach, he said.

The spacewalks are scheduled for January and March.

Before the redocking, the crew will "conserve" the station for its unmanned period by turning off unnecessary support systems, such as the oxygen supply, and switching the station to management by Mission Control, Lyndin said.

Next week, the crew will fire the engines of a docked Russian Progress M-50 cargo ship to raise the station's altitude by about 2 1/2 miles, Lyndin said. The station has dropped more than four miles during the past week because of strong magnetic storms.