Russian Space Ship Reaches ISS in Record Time of Less Than 6 Hours

First Posted: Aug 02, 2012 08:15 AM EDT

An unmanned Russian cargo ship arrived at the International Space station in less than six hours after it was launched into orbit. The Progress supply ship was launched last night and arrived at ISS at 9.18 pm EDT (1.18 GMT, August 2). This was the first time that the same day docking was accomplished at the orbital outpost.

The NASA officials state that docking test proceeded smoothly and the Progress vehicle's system responded flawlessly throughout the shortened flight to the space station.

A new approach manoeuvre that allowed the Progress M16-M vessel to reach ISS in less than six hours was loaded with more than 2,600 kilogrammes of fuel, oxygen and other supplies linked up with the ISS at 05:18 am Moscow time (0118 GMT). It was lunched to the space on launched to the space station Wednesday (Aug. 1) from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. 

This new approach can be used only after further testing, even for unmanned soyuz capsules trying to reduce the tine as well as the cost.

"If you can get the crew to orbit in six hours and onboard the International Space Station, that could be a tremendous benefit over the two-plus days it takes today," Dan Harman, Nasa's space station manager of operations and integration, told reporters last week.

The officials claim that the maneuvers to and from the docking attitude are expected to save more than 90 per cent of the fuel typically used when a Russian cargo spacecraft docks with the orbiting outpost.

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