Russian spacecraft breaks record for fastest trip to space station
Unmanned Progress spacecraft docked less than 4 hours after launch
An unmanned spacecraft flew to the International Space Station Monday in less time than it takes to fly from Toronto to Edmonton on a passenger plane.
The Progress 70 spacecraft loaded with food, fuel and other supplies, blasted off as scheduled aboard a Soyuz-2 rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:51 p.m. ET.
The spacecraft docked at the space station at 9:31 p.m. ET
"The less-than-four-hour trip will demonstrate an expedited capability that may be used on future Russian cargo and crew launches," NASA said in a news release.
ARRIVAL! Traveling about 250 miles over the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand, the unpiloted Russian Progress 70 cargo ship docked to the <a href="https://twitter.com/Space_Station?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Space_Station</a> at 9:31pm ET. Watch: <a href="https://t.co/mzKW5uDsTi">https://t.co/mzKW5uDsTi</a> <a href="https://t.co/HfB51po4cM">pic.twitter.com/HfB51po4cM</a>—@NASA
Russian spacecraft are already faster than most others heading to the space station. Since 2013, Soyuz spacecraft have been ferrying astronauts and cosmonauts to the space station in less than six hours, following successful tests with unmanned Progress spacecraft.
This was the third attempt by the Russian space agency Roscosmos to make the trip at this speed, following just two orbits of Earth. During the first two attempts in October 2017 and this past February, launch delays forced the Russians to revert to an older trajectory that requires 34 orbits and two days.