Russia Just Launched the Fastest Cargo Mission Ever to the Space Station

A Progress MS-series vehicle approaches the International Space Station for docking

A Progress MS-series vehicle approaches the International Space Station for docking

Russian Federation launched the next in its long series of Progress cargo spacecraft, Progress MS-09, to dock with the International Space Station (ISS) today. The robotic Progress 70 freighter, which loaded with almost 3 tons of food, fuel and other reserves landed with the station at 9:31 p.m. EDT succeeding a finish a mere two orbits of Earth.

Progress 68 and 69 were supposed to follow the same faster route to the ISS as 70, but both were re-routed at the last minute before launching and diverted to the longer two-day trajectory. However, the space agency found a way to reduce that travel time to just under 6 hours in 2013.

Progress 70 pronounced Russia's third such fast-track attempt.

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.

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The unpiloted Progress 70 made the journey from Kazakhstan in less than four hours, breaking the previous record of six on a space flight that takes two days. Again, that Progress spacecraft flew with the old two-day flight profile instead.

Progress 70 is not ready to come home yet.

The Progress carrier will stay docked to the ISS until January 2019, when it will be stuffed with trash and sent to burn up in the atmosphere, the Space.com website reports. The next cargo shipment is scheduled to arrive in September on a Japanese Kounotori spacecraft, also known as the H-2 Transfer Vehicle (HTV).

Ever since the mission was being prepared, NASA said speed is a goal of the mission.

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