Russian cargo ship makes fastest-ever trip to space station

A Progress MS-series vehicle approaches the International Space Station for docking

News Brief: A robotic Russian Progress cargo craft today was sent on a "fast-track" trajectory that got it to the International Space Station in less time than it takes to drive from Seattle to Spokane.

A Soyuz rocket is scheduled to launch the uncrewed Progress 70 spacecraft from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:51 p.m. EDT (2151 GMT) to deliver almost 3 tons of supplies for the space station's crew.

The spacecraft is expected to dock at the space station at 9:39 p.m. ET.

The SpaceX's 15th cargo flight to the space station that launched on June 29 took three days to reach the space station. The first attempt occurred in October 2017 using the Progress 68 spacecraft, but a last-minute delay forced Roscosmos to shift to the older, 2-day flight profile due to the orbital mechanics needed for the faster trip.

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Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, attributed the speedy delivery time and fewer loops around the Earth's orbit to the improved capacity of the Soyuz 2.1 carrier rocket. Roscosmos first tried to use the new maneuver a year ago, but it was aborted then for technical reasons.

Rogozin tweeted that the fast-track approach will be used in the future for assembling spacecraft in orbit for missions into deep space.

The station's current crew 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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