Unpiloted Russian Cargo Ship Reaches Space Station In Record Time

Unpiloted Russian Cargo Ship Reaches Space Station In Record Time

The entire event since the launch of the unmanned spacecraft until docking aired live on NASA Television and the agency's website.

If all goes well, the automated Progress will catch up with its quarry after a series of carefully timed rendezvous rocket firings to adjust the supply ship's altitude, gliding to a docking at the station's Earth-facing Pirs module around 9:39 p.m. - less than four hours after launch.

Russian Federation has consistently tried to keep cargo trips to the space station below six hours, setting a new precedent for a trip which used to take two days. It will stay at the orbital outpost until the end of January 2019. The new module was originally scheduled to launch in 2007 but has suffered several delays over the last decade.

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So far, Russian spacecraft have proved to be faster than any others which headed to the space station. However, the space agency found a way to reduce that travel time to just under 6 hours in 2013. 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. Ultimately, Progress 69 launched on the 2-day flight profile as well.

But it seemed that fortune favored Progress 70. "Third time was the charm". The vehicles look like Russia's crewed, three-module Soyuz spacecraft but can not carry people. That mission, HTV-7, will take about 4 hours to reach the ISS after launching from Japan's Tanegashima Space Center.

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

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