Russia Sends Cargo to Space Station With Record Speed

Location of the International Space Station at the time of Progress MS-09’s scheduled launch today

Russian cargo resupply trips to the International Space Station have become such a regular, predictable thing that even NASA rarely bothers to make a big deal out of them, but today's resupply mission is worth some attention.

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. Elon Musk's SpaceX Dragon commercial cargo supplier and Northrop Grumman's Cygnus take several days to reach the station.

The success of this mission may set the way for future Russian cargo and crew launches using the same expedited capability.

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

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A second attempt earlier this year in February hit the same roadblock with Progress 69: A last-minute glitch forced Roscosmos to abort the launch a minute before liftoff. The craft has brought over 2.5 tons of water, fuel, food and other supplies, extending the entire crucial provision supply to at least mid-January 2019.

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.

The Progress MS-09 or Progress 70 cargo ship-the former name is used by the Russian space agency, Roscosmos, and the latter by NASA-only did two orbits of Earth before docking with the ISS.

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