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

Katie Ramirez
July 13, 2018

The ship that went up to the station carried nearly three tons of food, fuel, and supplies for the astronauts on duty there. The total time from launch to docking was three hours and 40 minutes. Progress-MS-09 is expected to dock to the ISS on July 10 at 04:39 Moscow time.

Russia's space agency Roscosmos said the faster maneuver became possible thanks to a new version of the Soyuz booster rocket, noting that it puts the ship into orbit with higher precision.

A new four-orbit (6 hour) trajectory was introduced in 2013, but the Russians have continued trying to reduce the lag between launch and arrival both for Progress and its cousin, the crew-carrying Soyuz spacecraft.

Progress 70 will remain at the orbital outpost until late January 2019.

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Progress spacecraft are disposable vehicles that are packed with trash and unneeded items and intentionally burned up in Earth's atmosphere at mission's end. That would be the fastest trip yet for a mission to the space station. The new module was originally scheduled to launch in 2007 but has suffered several delays over the last decade. 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 ideal, speedy supply run.

Progress 70 pronounced Russia's third such fast-track attempt.

Progress 70 is not ready to come home yet. The vehicles look like Russia's crewed, three-module Soyuz spacecraft but can not carry people.

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