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

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

The entire event since the launch of the unmanned spacecraft until docking aired live on NASA Television and the agency's website.

A Soyuz rocket is scheduled to launch the uncrewed Progress 70 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:51 p.m. EDT (2151 GMT) to deliver almost 3 tons of supplies for the space station's crew.

NASA said that the fast trip to the station was meant to test an expedited capability that could be used on future Russian cargo and crew launch missions. The Progress 70 cargo ship will remain at the orbital outpost until late January 2019, NASA said.

Now, if you don't keep up with the minutia of space travel that might just sound like a number, so to give you some context, the previous record was five hours and 39 minutes. This will be replaced with the new Multipurpose Laboratory Module Nauka, whose launch date is yet to be decided. Progress spacecraft (and crew-carrying Soyuz capsules) originally took two days to reach the station before Roscosmos cut that trip down to 6 hours in 2013.

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This is the spacecraft's first attempt of a fast-track orbital rendezvous with ISS.

Progress 70 is not ready to come home yet.

Roscosmos, Russia's space agency, believes that the unprecedented speed was due to the newest version of the Soyuz booster rocket as it was able to get the ship into orbit with greater precision.

It arrived eight minutes ahead of schedule at 9:31 pm ET. 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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