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Russia Impresses with Speedy Progress Space Station Docking Mission

Russian Re-supply Mission Cuts Two Day Space Station Journey to Six Hours. Photo Credit/NASA TV

Russia achieved an International Space Station first on Wednesday, launching and docking the Progress 48 re-supply mission within six hours.

A similar test of a Soyuz crew transport with three passengers aboard is perhaps a year or more away.

The Soyuz and Progress launch to docking timeline typically unfolds across 34 orbits over two days.

A repeat of Wednesday’s Progress sprint could also be used for a hurry up delivery of space station hardware.

The supply capsule and its near three tons of supplies lifted off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on Wednesedy at 3:35 p.m., EDT. The automated linkup with the six person orbiting laboratory at 8:18 p.m. beat the schedule by 7 minutes. The entire trip took just 5 hours, 43 minutes.

A second Progress test flight of the accelerated docking timeline could be scheduled for later this year.

For astronauts, the shorter flight could mean more comfort. The longer two day journey requires a constant roll of the Soyuz to manage external thermal extremes

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