Russia's Progress cargo ships have been keeping the space station stocked with supplies since 2000, when the first crew took up residence on the orbiting lab. The robotic Progress 70 freighter, which loaded with almost 3 tons of food, fuel and other reserves landed with the station at 9:31 p.m. EDT succeeding a finish a mere two orbits of Earth. That would be the fastest trip yet for a mission to the space station.
This time around, the Russian Progress freighter travelled from Earth to the ISS in three hours and 40 minutes.
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Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, is getting rid of the 17-year-old module to make room for the new Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MDM), also known as Nauka, which has yet to launch to the ISS. The fastest-ever cargo run took less than four hours, rather than the usual two days, due to a carefully planned, time-saving, two-orbit trajectory that Russian Federation wants to use for crewed as well as uncrewed flights. The ship, called Progress, took off from its launch site in Kazakhstan at just before 10 p.m. GMT and arrived at the space station just a few hours later.
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. Progress MS-09 will stay docked until late January. The new module was originally scheduled to launch in 2007 but has suffered several delays over the last decade.
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Progress 70 is not ready to come home yet.
The goal is to shorten the time it takes a crew to reach the station inside a cramped Soyuz ferry ship, a trip that traditionally took two days, or 34 orbits.
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