Russian Spacecraft Sets a New Speed Record As It Travels Towards the International Space Station


Another spacecraft loaded with supplies just flew this Monday with a speed record. It took less time to get from Earth to the International Space Station than it usually takes to fly with a passenger plane from Toronto to Edmonton!

The entire event since the launch of the unmanned spacecraft until docking aired live on NASA Television and the agency’s website.

The Fastest Spacecraft to Reach the ISS

The spacecraft is called Progress 70, and it was filled with about three tons of goods: food, fuel, and supplies. It was launched at 5:51 p.m. ET by a Soyuz-2 rocket from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome. At 9:31 p.m. ET, the spacecraft was ready to dock at the space station.

In a news release, NASA said:

“The less-than-four-hour trip will demonstrate an expedited capability that may be used on future Russian cargo and crew launches.”

On their Twitter account, NASA posted short footage from the docking, writing:

‘ARRIVAL! Traveling about 250 miles over the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand, the unpiloted Russian Progress 70 cargo ship docked to the @Space_Station at 9:31pm ET.’

Progress 70 is not ready to come home yet. It will stay at the orbital outpost until the end of January 2019.

So far, Russian spacecraft have proved to be faster than any others which headed to the space station. In 2013, Soyuz could send astronauts and cosmonauts to the space station in six hours. Then, unmanned Progress spacecraft successfully passed their tests.

Usually, other spacecraft take 2-3 day to reach the space station. For example, SpaceX’s Dragon capsule was launched on 29 June, and it arrived on 2 July.

This launch was the third attempt made by Roscosmos to achieve a trip of this speed, only needing to orbit the Earth twice. The first two attempts (last year in October and this year in February) were less fast due to launch delays that made the Russian space agency use an old trajectory that resulted in a two days’ trip and 34 orbits.


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