Russia's Robotic Cargo Spacecraft Smashes Record for Trip to International Space Station

Mindy Sparks
July 11, 2018

A Russian robotic spacecraft has smashed the record for the time taken to reach the International Space Station (ISS), managing the feat in a mere three hours and 40 minutes.

The Progress MS-09 lifted off as scheduled at 3:51 a.m. (2151 GMT; 5:51 p.m. EDT Monday) from the Russia-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The unmanned spacecraft loaded with almost three tons of supplies docked at the station in automatic mode less than four hours after the launch. That new system is apparently a lot better than whatever they were using previously, and it's helped to make the trip much more efficient, thus cutting way down on the time it takes for its vehicles to arrive at the Space Station.

NASA predicted the freighter's "expedited capability. may be used on future Russian cargo and crew launches" in its coverage of the Russian cargo spacecraft's launch last week. It can sometimes take up to two days for the cargo vessel to chase down the space station as it cruises around the Earth, but the stars seemed to align this time around and made for a flawless, speedy supply run. Ultimately, Progress 69 launched on the 2-day flight profile as well.

Russia's Progress cargo ships have been keeping the space station stocked with supplies since 2000, when the first crew took up residence on the orbiting lab. The vehicles look like Russia's crewed, three-module Soyuz spacecraft but can not carry people. Progress 70 will stay linked to the space station until January 2019, when it will be discarded, NASA officials said.

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