JOHNSON SPACE CENTER — The three crews on board the International Space Station on Friday were adjusting to crowded quarters and preparing for heavy weekend traffic to and from the orbiting laboratory.
It marks the first time since October 2009 nine crew members have been on the station without a space shuttle.
Expedition 38 flight engineers Mikhail Tyurin, Koichi Wakata and Rick Mastracchio arrived at the station Thursday with an unusual piece of cargo — the Olympic torch for the 2014 Winter Games in Sochi, Russia. This morning, cosmonauts Oleg Kotov and Sergey Ryazanskiy will bring the torch along on a spacewalk outside the station.
Astronaut Karen Nyberg, cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin and Luca Parmitano of the European Space Agency are busy packing their bags for a return to Earth on Sunday.
In the meantime, crew members will adapt to the crowded station.
Having nine crew members in orbit at once is unusual, but not unheard of. It’s the third time the station has been staffed by so many.
Research and science projects on the station would continue to function with extra people, but the living situation could be uncomfortable, astronaut Karen Nyberg said via teleconference from the station.
“Making up the science for us would be very doable,” Nyberg said. “I think the hard part would be getting the systems to accommodate nine people.”
Crew members moved a Soyuz space capsule to prepare for the new arrivals, and Parmitano said they had fleshed out new procedures to accommodate the increased traffic.
Kotov is set to become commander of the six-member Expedition 38 Sunday.
Kotov said he was working on an inspirational statement in the vein of Neil Armstrong’s first words on the moon to prepare for the Olympic spacewalk. Speaking from the station Friday, Kotov said bringing the torch into space exemplified the Olympic spirit.
The Olympic torch’s trip into space will be broadcast live on NASA TV at nasa.gov/nasa.tv starting at 9 a.m. today.