Russian Cargo Ship Makes Fastest-ever Trip to Space Station

After two failed attempts, the Russian space agency Roscosmos has successfully sent a cargo freighter to the ISS via a new "fast track" method that allows for deliveries to be made in record time: less than four hours, a big improvement from the previous standard, which was around two days.

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. (1,565 kg) of other "dry" cargo like food and other equipment, NASA public affairs officer Dan Huot told in an email. Because of complex orbital constraints - a variety of launch-day specific conditions must be met - both spacecraft eventually used more traditional two-day approaches. NASA calls this Progress 70 or 70P because it is the 70th Progress launched to the ISS. 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.

Progress 70 is not ready to come home yet.

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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. 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.

The Pirs module is the preferred docking port for the Soyuz and Progress vehicles.

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