In a demonstration of expedited capability, a Russian cargo ship is readying itself to deliver supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) in less than four hours. Usually, Progress capsules are sent away to burn up in Earth's atmosphere after ISS crewmembers stuff the vessels with waste.
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.
It marked the first time such fast-track approach was used. It was built by Russian S.P. Korolev Rocket and Space Corporation Energia and was launched in space in 2001.
It marked the shortest the travel time for ferrying supplies for the crew, beating the previous Progress journeys of about six hours. Ultimately, Progress 69 launched on the 2-day flight profile as well.
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"A flawless launch", Navias said of Progress 70's liftoff.
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 the orbit with a higher precision. The next cargo shipment is scheduled to arrive in September on a Japanese Kounotori spacecraft, also known as the H-2 Transfer Vehicle (HTV). However, NASA has contracted private spaceflight companies to launch the agency's cargo shipments.
In February, a Progress MS-07 launch was cancelled at the last minute after another attempt in October 2016.