Russia Sends Cargo to Space Station With Record Speed

The Progress MS-09 lifted off as scheduled at 3:51 a.m. local time on July 10 from the Russia-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan for a journey that lasted just under four hours.

The spacecraft is called Progress 70, and it was filled with about three tons of goods: food, fuel, and supplies.

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.

'ARRIVAL! Traveling about 250 miles over the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand, the unpiloted Russian Progress 70 cargo ship docked to the @Space_Station at 9:31pm ET'.

Russian Federation made it to the International Space Station in record speed, clocking in just three hours and 48 minutes from launch to docking.

"We have liftoff of the Progress resupply ship, heading into the express lane, bound for the International Space Station", NASA spokesman Rob Navias said during live commentary.

Progress Spacecraft are expendable vehicles that have been furnishing the ISS since 2000, the year astronauts initially assumed residence on the orbiting lab. NASA officials said that if everything works out as per the plan Progress 70 will remain connected to the station until January 2019. And there was an advantage; the spacecraft landed eight minutes early rendering the trip to be completed faster than expected. "Such a significant shift of the launch - by 3-4 months at once - indicates that the manufacturer of the module Khrunichev Center and RSC Energia are not yet ready to submit the final schedule for the assembly and launch of the module and we can expect further shift of the launch date to the right, and it may even be set for 2020".

The first attempt occurred in October 2017 using the Progress 68 spacecraft, but a last-minute delay forced Roscosmos to shift to the older, 2-day flight profile due to the orbital mechanics needed for the faster trip.

Vanessa Coleman