The Russian cargo ship Progress 70, which was launched to the International Space Station (ISS) on Monday, July 9, to deliver supplies to the Expedition 56 crew, reportedly docked with the orbiting space station at 9:31 p.m. EDT. The vehicle loaded with loaded with 2.8 tons of food, fuel, and other supplies lifted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at around 5:51 p.m. EDT.
According to Roscosmos space agency, the cargo vessel took a record-breaking three hours and 40 minutes to reach the International Space Station, smashing the previous record flight time by two hours. In the past, the Progress ships took about six hours or two days to reach the space outpost.
“The less-than-4-hour trip will demonstrate an expedited capability that may be used on future Russian cargo and crew launches,” NASA officials said in a statement.
The Russian space agency said the faster trip was possible because of a new version of the Soyuz booster rocket. Roscosmos first tried to use the new maneuver last year, but it got aborted then due to some technical reasons.
The International Space Station is currently home to NASA astronauts Drew Feustel, Ricky Arnold and Serena Aunon-Chancellor, Russians Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev and a European Space Agency’s astronaut from Germany, Alexander Gerst.
The Expedition 56 crew members will now spend the next few months in unloading the cargo, which includes 1,170 lbs. of propellant, 115 lbs. of oxygen gas, 930 lbs. of water, and 3,450 lbs. of other food supplies and equipment. The spacecraft will remain docked at the station until January 2019. The freighter will then be loaded with trash and sent to burn up in Earth’s atmosphere.
The next cargo shipment is currently scheduled to arrive at the ISS in September on a Japanese Kounotori spacecraft, also known as the H-2 Transfer Vehicle (HTV). The cargo vessel will be launched from Japan’s Tanegashima Space Center.