An unmanned Russian Progress cargo ship blasted off from Kazakhstan on Monday and shot into orbit at almost the same moment the International Space Station was passing directly overhead.
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 Russia wants to use for crewed as well as uncrewed flights.
The cargo ship is loaded with 1,168 pounds of propellant to help maintain the station’s orbit, 3,450 pounds of dry cargo, crew supplies and spare parts, 114 pounds of oxygen and air and 926 pounds of water.
The “Progress” launched at 2151 GMT on Monday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan and arrived at the space station in the early hours of Tuesday, Roscosmos space agency said.
“The length of the flight, between departure to its docking at the station, was three hours 40 minutes,” the agency said in a statement, adding that it was a “first in the history of Progress cargo ships”.
The previous record was five hours 39 minutes.