Russian spacecraft aims to break record for fastest trip to space station

New Russian 'Progress 70' cargo ship could resupply ISS in under 4 hours

The Progress 70 resupply ship, loaded with nearly 2,721 kgs of food, fuel and supplies, is set to launch from Baikonur space port in Kazakhstan at 3.51 am (Kazakhstan time) on Tuesday.

The spacecraft is expected to dock at the space station at 9:39 p.m. ET. That would be the fastest trip yet for a mission to the space station. Its flight lasted only 3 hrs 40 mins versus the previous 6 or so hours taken up by a pattern presupposing four revolutions around the planet.

The Progress 70 launch is Russia's third attempt to fly a superfast mission to the space station.

The SpaceX's 15th cargo flight to the space station that launched on June 29 took three days to reach the space station.

Today's mission was unmanned, but the Russian space agency hopes to use this optimized route for future manned trips to the space station as well.

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A second attempt earlier this year in February hit the same roadblock with Progress 69: A last-minute glitch forced Roscosmos to abort the launch a minute before liftoff.

The new navigation system surely helped, but the speed at which a cargo ship can reach the space station depends on a number of different factors, not least of which is the position of the station itself in Earth's orbit.

"We're considering another two or three dockings of cargo crafts [with the ISS] and we'll then try the pattern at the Soyuz [manned] spacecraft", Romanov said.

Progress spacecraft are disposable vehicles that are packed with trash and unneeded items and intentionally burned up in Earth's atmosphere at mission's end.

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