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MORE Partner Series Update: The Russian cargo ship Progress 70 successfully docked with the International Space Station at 9:31 p.m. EDT. Read our latest story here: Russian Cargo Ship Sets New Record for Fastest Trip to Space Station A Russian Progress cargo spacecraft launched to the International Space Station (ISS) today (July 9) to deliver supplies to the crew of Expedition 56 in record time.
Packed with nearly 3 tons (2.7 metric tons) of food, fuel and other supplies, the uncrewed Progress cargo ship lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a Russian Soyuz rocket at 5:51 p.m. EDT (2151 GMT; 3:51 a.m. July 10 local time). "We have liftoff of the Progress resupply ship, heading into the express lane, bound for the International Space Station," NASA spokesman Rob Navias said during live commentary.
The vessel, known as Progress 70 or Progress MS-09, is expected to arrive at the space station tonight at 9:39 p.m. EDT (0139 GMT on July 10), completing the trip in a record time of 3 hours and 48 minutes. "The less-than-4-hour trip will demonstrate an expedited capability that may be used on future Russian cargo and crew launches," NASA officials said in a statement. [How Russia's Progress Spaceships Work (Infographic)]
The two-orbit rendezvous was made possible by timing the Soyuz rocket’s launch to an instant just before the space station sailed over the Baikonur Cosmodrome.
At the time of liftoff, the space station was orbiting over a point around 370 miles (595 kilometers) southwest of Baikonur. By the time the Progress supply ship reached orbit, the station was orbiting around 1,004 miles (1,615 kilometers) ahead of the cargo craft.
originally posted by: DoubleDNH
This blows my mind... we (as a species) are now able to resupply the International Space Station in *under* four hours. I don't know why I thought it would take much longer to reach the space station but this is pretty amazing and Russia broke records in the process.
Overall, this was Roscosmos’ third attempt to launch a Progress resupply vehicle to the International Space Station and have it dock in just three and a half hours. Previous attempts to execute such a maneuver were planned for the Progress MS-07 and MS-08 missions.
Both of those missions, however, had their launches scrubbed with just seconds remaining in their countdowns, thus missing the critical ISS ground track alignment with the Baikonur Cosmodrome launch site and preventing a fast-tracked rendezvous from taking place.
This alignment between the ground track of the International Space Station and the launch site is what permits such a fast-track orbital rendezvous – that coupled with the upgraded Progress MS-series vehicles’ ability to quickly confirm their orbital insertion parameters with a downrange tracking station installed at the newly built Vostochny Cosmodrome in eastern Russia.