Russian spacecraft aims to break record for fastest trip to space station

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

A Russian cargo vessel took just three hours and 40 minutes to reach the International Space Station on Tuesday, Roscosmos space agency said, smashing the record flight time by two hours.

The Progress 70 resupply ship, loaded with nearly 2,721 kgs of food, fuel and supplies, is set to launch from Baikonur space port in Kazakhstan at 3.51 am (Kazakhstan time) on Tuesday.

The unmanned spacecraft loaded with almost three tons of supplies docked at the station in automatic mode less than four hours after the launch. 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.

Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, attributed the speedy delivery time and fewer loops around the Earth's orbit to the improved capacity of the Soyuz 2.1 carrier rocket.

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The fastest-ever cargo run took less than four hours, rather than the usual two days, due to a carefully planned, time-saving, two-orbit trajectory that Russian Federation wants to use for crewed as well as uncrewed flights.

Roscosmos first tried to use the new maneuver a year ago, but it was aborted for technical reasons.

Rogozin tweeted that the fast-track approach will be used in the future for assembling spacecraft in orbit for missions into deep space.

Russian cosmonauts Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev were on board the station and ready to take over manual control of the craft should any problems occur, but the docking proceeded in a fully automatic mode.

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