Russian spacecraft sets record for speedy trip to space station

Russian cargo ship makes fastest-ever trip to space station

The Progress MS-09 lifted off as scheduled at 3:51 am today from the Russia-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The unmanned spacecraft loaded with almost three tons of supplies docked at the station in automatic mode less than four hours after the launch.

Progress-MS-09 cargo spacecraft detached from the third stage of Soyuz 2.1a rocket, and began independent flight to the International Space Station (ISS), the Russian Mission Control Center reported on Tuesday.

This was the first Russian cargo mission to demonstrate an "expedited capability" that will likely be used again in future, NASA said in a statement.

When it arrives at the ISS, the Progress spacecraft will dock at the Russian Pirs module.

The entire event since the launch of the unmanned spacecraft until docking aired live on NASA Television and the agency's website. Progress on the other will not head back home until January next year, and when it will, it will burn up in Earth's atmosphere.

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NASA has reported it aired live coverage of the launch of a Russian cargo ship loaded with nearly three tons of food, fuel and supplies to the International Space Station, the agency said. "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". It is now scheduled to launch in August 2019, but that may be postponed again, to 2020, according to the Russian news agency Sputnik International.

The goal is to shorten the time it takes a crew to reach the station inside a cramped Soyuz ferry ship, a trip that traditionally took two days, or 34 orbits.

The same thing happened with the Progress 69 cargo launch in February. Again, that Progress spacecraft flew with the old two-day flight profile instead.

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

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