Russian spaceship Progress 70 rockets to International Space Station in record time | World | News

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The unmanned Progress 70 spacecraft blasted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on a Russian Soyuz rocket and reached the ISS in a record 3 hours 48 minutes.

The disposable freighter linked up with the space station as both spacecraft sailed high over the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand.

A NASA spokesman said: “The less-than-four-hour trip demonstrates an expedited capability that may be used on future Russian cargo and crew launches.”

The ISS’s six crew members will spend the next few months unloading the cargo which includes 530kg of propellant, 52k of oxygen gas, 420kg of water and 1,565kg of “dry” cargo such as food and other equipment.

NASA said Progress 70 will remain docked at the ISS until January 2019. It will then be loaded with waste and sent to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.

Russia’s Progress spacecraft are not the only vehicles that transport crew supplies and science gear to the ISS.

The next cargo shipment is scheduled to arrive in September on a Japanese Kounotori spacecraft, also known as the H-2 Transfer Vehicle (HTV).

That mission, HTV-7, will take about four hours to reach the ISS after launching from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Centre.

NASA does not have its own rockets or vehicles to carry cargo to the ISS but has contracted private spaceflight companies to launch the agency’s cargo shipments.

Northrop Grumman Innovation Systems will launch a Cygnus cargo mission to the ISS for NASA in November, followed by a SpaceX Dragon spacecraft later that month.

The European Space Agency has also launched cargo to the ISS with that agency’s Automated Transfer Vehicle, the last of which flew in 2014.

Another Progress cargo-delivery mission, Progress 71, is scheduled to launch in late October.

A NASA spokesman said: “The less-than-four-hour trip demonstrates an expedited capability that may be used on future Russian cargo and crew launches.”



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