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Russia Just Launched the Fastest Cargo Mission Ever to the Space Station

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posted on Jul, 10 2018 @ 09:44 AM
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.

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)]


posted on Jul, 10 2018 @ 10:15 AM
It's all about timing.

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.

posted on Jul, 10 2018 @ 10:35 AM
a reply to: DoubleDNH

Its possible, and always was. It is not, however, always convenient.

That being said, well done to ROSCOSMOS and everyone who worked with them to make this possible. Efficiency of this sort is to be commended!

posted on Jul, 10 2018 @ 07:42 PM

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.

The reason why it usually takes so long to reach the ISS (sometimes a couple of days, including when the Shuttle was making trips to the ISS) is simply the way on-orbit rendezvous usually work.

First of all , the ISS really isn't that high (only about 200 miles. 320 km); a spacecraft can reach that altitude pretty quickly. However, they never just go "straight there". That's because real-life on-orbit maneuvers is not like the film Gravity where they zip around orbit at will, going here and there wherever they want; there usually is not enough fuel for that. There is usually just enough fuel (with some reserves) to reach an particular orbit that will eventually (often after a few days, with a few extra maneuvering burns) intersect with the orbit of the ISS.

So basically a normal procedure is to send the ship (Soyuz, Progress, ESA's ATV, SpaceX Dragon, or Orbital's [Now Northup Grumman's] Cygnus Spacecraft, or whatever) on an orbit that will slowly but surely, after dozens of orbits, eventually end up somewhere near the ISS.

This fast-track system the Russians are trying is done through a combination of precise orbital alignment of the ISS and by doing the burns to raise their orbit on a much quicker pace than is normally done.

edit on 10/7/2018 by Soylent Green Is People because: (no reason given)

posted on Jul, 10 2018 @ 10:46 PM
2-orbit vs 4-orbit diagram

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.

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