Russia Sends Cargo to Space Station With Record Speed

Minnie NorrisJul 13, 2018

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.

Russian freighters and spacecraft carrying crews usually take at least six hours and four orbits around Earth to reach the space station. (1,565 kg) of other "dry" cargo like food and other equipment, NASA public affairs officer Dan Huot told in an email.

Roscosmos first launched Progress cargo missions to the ISS in 2000; back then, it would take about two days for one of the spacecraft to chase down the orbiting lab after launch. Progress 70 should make the trip in just over 3.5 hours. 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 flawless, speedy supply run.

"The length of the flight, between departure to its docking at the station, was 3 hours 40 minutes", the agency said in a statement, adding that it was a "first in the history of Progress cargo ships".

Progress 70 will remain at the orbital outpost until late January 2019.

The Russians attempted such a fast-track rendezvous on the two most recent Progress launches but in both cases, delays were ordered because of unrelated issues in the final moments of the countdown.

"A ideal launch", Navias said of Progress 70's liftoff.

NASA doesn't have its own rockets or vehicles to use in sending cargo to the ISS.

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