Russia Sets New Record For Fastest Supply Mission To The ISS
Russia made it to the International Space Station in record speed, clocking in just three hours and 48 minutes from launch to docking.
It's incredibly impressive, considering the previous record was a whopping five hours and 39 minutes. Now, Russia has proven that humans can get to space significantly faster.
A Speedy Resupply Mission
The Russian cargo spacecraft, Progress MS-09, is meant to deliver food, fuel, and other supplies to the International Space Station, but it was able to record a great achievement in the process.
According to Phys.Org, the unmanned ship launched off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Tuesday, July 10 at 3:51 a.m. local time (Monday, 21:51 GMT). Three hours and 40 minutes later, it docked at the ISS to unload almost three tons of supplies.
Roscosmos, Russia's space agency, believes that the unprecedented speed was due to the newest version of the Soyuz booster rocket as it was able to get the ship into orbit with greater precision.
"It's a new achievement by our engineers," cosmonaut Fyodor Yurchikhin says in a statement on state television, adding that this new approach will likely be used in Russia's manned missions in the future.
According to Space Flight Now, the Roscosmos timed the rocket's launch to an instant before the ISS flew over the Baikonur Cosmodrome. This allows Progress to travel a much shorter distance than most spacecrafts usually do before docking.
The Trip Back Home
Space.com notes that ISS crew members just stuff the Progress capsules with waste, then sent away to burn up in the atmosphere. However, this one will be staying at the ISS until January 2019.
When Progress finally leaves the ISS, it will bring the 17-year-old Pirs docking compartment along with it. Roscosmos will be replacing it with the Multipurpose Laboratory Module that's dubbed Nauka.
The MLM, which began construction back in 1995, was originally scheduled to get to the ISS in 2007, but it's been delayed several times over the decade.
"Now the launch of MLM is shifted to November 2019," a source tells Sputnik News. "Such a significant shift of the launch — by 3-4 months at once — indicates that the manufacturer of the module Khrunichev Center and RSC Energia are not yet ready to submit the final schedule for the assembly and launch of the module and we can expect further shift of the launch date to the right, and it may even be set for 2020."