Science

Russian Cargo Ship Makes Fastest-ever Trip to Space Station

Russian Cargo Ship Makes Fastest-ever Trip to Space Station

Progress-MS-09 cargo spacecraft detached from the third stage of Soyuz 2.1a rocket, and began independent flight to the International Space Station (ISS), the Russian Mission Control Center reported on Tuesday. The previous record time from takeoff to docking was around six hours, and that involved four orbits.

The Russian spacecraft was carrying more than two tons of cargo, including fuel, air, maintenance equipment, and care and life support packs for the astronauts on board the ISS. Progress 70 will stay linked to the space station until January 2019, when it will be discarded, NASA officials said.

So far, Russian spacecraft have proved to be faster than any others which headed to the space station.

Progress 68 and 69 were supposed to follow the same faster route to the ISS as 70, but both were re-routed at the last minute before launching and diverted to the longer two-day trajectory.




Space.com notes that ISS crew members just stuff the Progress capsules with waste, then sent away to burn up in the atmosphere.

It marked the first time such fast-track approach was used.

But it seemed that fortune favored Progress 70.

The shorter flight time of the Progress MS-09, carried on a Soyuz 2.1 rocket, was made possible by a new navigation system. The vehicles look like Russia's crewed, three-module Soyuz spacecraft but can not carry people. That put the spacecraft about eight minutes ahead of schedule. Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems will launch a Cygnus cargo mission to the ISS for NASA in November, followed by a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft later that month.


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