With the Oct. 21 docking of Soyuz MS-02 to the International Space Station's Poisk module, the crew size for the football field-sized orbiting outpost returned to six, albeit for only about two weeks.
Launched Oct. 19 from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, three members of Expedition 49 – Russian cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Andrei Borisenko and NASA astronaut Shane Kimbrough – took a 34-orbit route to catch up with the ISS and test new equipment on the upgraded Soyuz-MS variant.
Docking took place at 5:52 a.m. EDT (9:52 GMT). A few hours later, at 8:20 a.m. EDT (12:20 GMT), hatches between Soyuz and ISS were opened. The Soyuz trio joined Expedition 49 commander Anatoly Ivanishin, NASA astronaut Kate Rubins and Japanese astronaut Takuya Onishi who have been living on board the outpost since July.
On Oct. 30, Ivanishin, Rubins and Onishi will board their Soyuz MS-01 to return to Earth, once again reducing the crew size to three. Once they leave, Expedition 49 will officially end and Expedition 50 will start.
The Soyuz MS-02 crew will be on their own at the outpost for about two-and-a-half weeks before three crew members of Expedition 50 launch in Soyuz MS-03 toward ISS.
Video courtesy of NASA