Russia completes the fastest ever same-day delivery mission to space after arriving at the ISS in a record 3 hours and 48 minutes
- Russian cargo ship carrying 3 tons of supplies lifted off at 10:51pm BST Monday
- The craft docked at the International Space Station at 2:39am BST Tuesday
- Progress MS-09 cut travel time down to under four hours using a new trajectory
- In the past it took Progress ships about six hours or two days to reach the ISS
Russia has completed the fastest ever same-day delivery mission to space after arriving at the International Space Station (ISS) in just three hours and 48 minutes.
A Russian cargo ship carrying nearly three tons of supplies lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 10:51pm BST (5:51pm ET) Monday.
The unmanned craft carried a fresh load of fuel, food and other supplies to the orbiting laboratory, docking at 2:39am BST Tuesday (9:39pm ET Monday).
Russian flights to the ISS often take days, but Progress MS-09 cut travel time down to under four hours using a new carefully planned, two-orbit trajectory.
The previous same-day spaceflight record was 5 hours and 39 minutes, set in 2013 by the Roscosmos Soyuz TMA-09M rocket.
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Russia has completed the fastest ever same-day delivery mission to space after arriving at the International Space Station (ISS) in just three hours and 48 minutes. Pictured is the Russian Soyuz rocket during its launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan Monday
It marked the first time this fast-track approach was used after two failed attempts.
Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said the faster manoeuver was possible thanks to a new version of the Soyuz booster rocket, which powered Progress into orbit.
The new version of the booster, which detaches from the cargo ship shortly after breaching Earth’s atmosphere, puts the ship into orbit with a higher precision.
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At the time of launch, the International Space Station was flying about 250 miles (400km) over southwest Uzbekistan, south of the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
‘We have liftoff of the Progress resupply ship, heading into the express lane, bound for the International Space Station,’ Nasa spokesperson Rob Navias said during live commentary.
Less than 10 minutes after launch, the resupply ship reached preliminary orbit and deployed its solar arrays and navigational antennas as planned.
Russia’s space agency Roscosmos said the faster manoeuver was possible thanks to a new version of the Soyuz booster rocket (pictured), which powered Progress into orbit
The new version of the booster puts the ship into orbit with a higher precision
The Russian cargo craft made two orbits of Earth before docking to the orbiting laboratory in record time.
‘The less-than-four-hour trip will demonstrate an expedited capability that may be used on future Russian cargo and crew launches,’ Nasa officials said in a statement.
In the past, it took the Progress ships two days to reach the space outpost, orbiting the Earth more than 30 times in the process.
Roscosmos cut this down to under six hours in 2013 when it launched a crew of two cosmonauts and one astronaut to the ISS.
The Soyuz TMA-09M set a record for the fastest trip ever to the International Space Station, taking 5 hours and 39 minutes from launch to docking.
The unmanned Russian cargo ship lifted off at 10:51pm BST (5:51pm ET) Monday. It carried a fresh load of fuel, food and other supplies to the ISS, docking (pictured) at 2:39am BST Tuesday (9:39pm ET Monday)
Russian flights to the ISS often take days, but Progress MS-09 cut travel time down to under four hours using a new carefully planned, two-orbit trajectory. Pictured is the crago ship (centre) after it docked at the ISS
Roscosmos first tried to use the new manoeuver last year, but it was aborted then for technical reasons.
A second attempt was also aborted in February during the final moments of the countdown.
The cancellations meant the agency missed its small window to send the supply craft along the new trajectory, forcing the vehicle to instead take a longer route.
WHAT IS THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION?
The International Space Station (ISS) is a $100 billion (£80 billion) science and engineering laboratory that orbits 250 miles (400 km) above Earth.
It has been permanently staffed by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts since November 2000.
The space station is currently home to two Russians, three Americans and one Japanese.
Research conducted aboard the ISS often requires one or more of the unusual conditions present in low Earth orbit, such as low-gravity or oxygen.
The International Space Station (file photo) is a $100 billion (£80 billion) science and engineering laboratory that orbits 250 miles (400 km) above Earth
ISS studies have investigated human research, space medicine, life sciences, physical sciences, astronomy and meteorology.
The US space agency, Nasa, spends about $3 billion (£2.4 billion) a year on the space station program, a level of funding that is endorsed by the Trump administration and Congress.
A U.S. House of Representatives committee that oversees Nasa has begun looking at whether to extend the program beyond 2024.
Alternatively the money could be used to speed up planned human space initiatives to the moon and Mars.
Mr Navias said Roscosmos hopes to fly several more Progress flights to the ISS using the new super-speed trajectory before using the two-orbit flight path for crewed missions on the agency’s Soyuz spacecraft.
The ISS has been permanently staffed by rotating crews of astronauts and cosmonauts since November 2000.
The station’s current crew currently includes Nasa astronauts Drew Feustel, Ricky Arnold and Serena Aunon-Chancellor, a European Space Agency’s astronaut from Germany, Alexander Gerst, and Russians Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev.
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