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

Christopher Davidson
July 10, 2018

In a demonstration of expedited capability, a Russian cargo ship is readying itself to deliver supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) in less than four hours.

The Progress MS-09 blasted off atop a Soyuz-2.1a rocket at 21:51 GMT Monday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The spacecraft is expected to dock at the space station at 9:39 p.m. ET. That would be the fastest trip yet for a mission to the space station. 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.

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The SpaceX's 15th cargo flight to the space station that launched on June 29 took three days to reach the space station.

It marked the first time such fast-track approach was used. In February, a Progress MS-07 launch was cancelled at the last minute after another attempt in October 2016. Ultimately, Progress 69 launched on the 2-day flight profile as well.

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.

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