Russian Cargo Ship Makes Fastest-ever Trip to Space Station

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NASA said that the fast trip to the station was meant to test an expedited capability that could be used on future Russian cargo and crew launch missions.

The station's current crew includes NASA astronauts Drew Feustel, Ricky Arnold and Serena Aunon-Chancellor, a European Space Agency astronaut from Germany, Alexander Gerst, and Russians Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev. It is now scheduled to launch in August 2019, but that may be postponed again, to 2020, according to the Russian news agency Sputnik International. NASA calls this Progress 70 or 70P because it is the 70th Progress launched to the ISS.

At the moment of launch, the International Space Station, streaking through space at almost five miles per second, was expected to be just 370 miles to the southwest of Baikonur. However, the space agency found a way to reduce that travel time to just under 6 hours in 2013. Previously resupply missions with "Progress" spacecraft have taken either six hours (four orbits) or two days (34 orbits).

Progress 68 and 69 were supposed to follow the same faster route to the ISS as 70, but both were re-routed at the last minute before launching and diverted to the longer two-day trajectory.

Progress 70 pronounced Russia's third such fast-track attempt.

When the cargo ship was in orbit the space station was about 1,004 miles ahead of it.

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"A flawless launch", Navias said of Progress 70's liftoff.

The shorter flight time of the Progress MS-09, carried on a Soyuz 2.1 rocket, was made possible by a new navigation system.

Russia's Progress spacecraft are not the only vehicles that transport crew supplies and science gear to the ISS.

It arrived eight minutes ahead of schedule at 9:31 pm ET.

The ISS had a resupply mission recently that lifted off in Kazakhstan atop a Soyuz-2.1a booster.

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