Russian cargo ship set for quick delivery of supplies to ISS

Carrying nearly three tons of fuel, air, tools, food and care packages for the crew, the Progress completed only two orbits around the planet before docking at the station.

The ISS Progress 70 spacecraft lifted off at 5:51 p.m. EDT July 9 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The total time from launch to docking was three hours and 40 minutes.

NASA predicted the freighter's "expedited capability. may be used on future Russian cargo and crew launches" in its coverage of the Russian cargo spacecraft's launch last week.

Russia's space agency Roscosmos said the faster maneuver became possible thanks to a new version of the Soyuz booster rocket, noting that it puts the ship into orbit with higher precision. Now, Russia has proven that humans can get to space significantly faster. At 9:31 p.m. ET, the spacecraft was ready to dock at the space station.

Progress Spacecraft are expendable vehicles that have been furnishing the ISS since 2000, the year astronauts initially assumed residence on the orbiting lab. NASA officials said that if everything works out as per the plan Progress 70 will remain connected to the station until January 2019. But when Progress 70 undocks from the ISS, it will take something else back home with it: the entire Pirs docking compartment.

This is the spacecraft's first attempt of a fast-track orbital rendezvous with ISS.

But it seemed that fortune favored Progress 70. In the past, it took the Progress ships about six hours or two days to reach the space outpost.

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