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Russian Progress Cargo Ship Launch Breaks Records With Superfast Trip

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Russian Progress cargo ship once again set another record by reaching the International Space Station in only 3 hours and 21 minutes.

Progress 72 beat the record of Progress 70 set last July 2018 by 19 minutes. The uncrewed cargo ship sat on top of a Soyuz rocket, which blasted off from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan on April 4, Thursday, at 7:01 a.m. EST.

"This was a perfect launch, right on time," said Rob Navias, NASA spokesperson, during the live commentary.

By 10:25 a.m. ET, it reached the Pirs module of the ISS after taking only a two-orbit trajectory.

Before, the previous Progress freighters would take at least two days to arrive at the station. When in a four-orbit trajectory, it can reach the ISS by 6 hours.

Not all Progress cargo missions are successful, though. Last 2015, Progress 59 had to crash back to Earth sooner than expected.

It failed to dock properly to the ISS after its liftoff on April 28, 2015. During its ascent, they noticed the aircraft started rotating uncontrollably.

It Doesn't Leave Empty-Handed

Progress cargo ships are known for delivering supplies for the crew onboard the ISS, and this one is no different.

The Progress 72 carried 3.5 tons of supplies for the six astronauts of Expedition 59, including Oleg Kononenko and Alexey Ovchinin, both Russians; David Saint-Jacques, a Canadian; Anne McClain, Nick Hague, and Christina Koch, all Americans.

Kononenko serves as the commander, while the rest are flight engineers. Both women, meanwhile, were supposed to do NASA's first all-female spacewalk. The agency later called it off due to lack of a suitable-sized spacesuit.

The supplies included the following:

  • 926 pounds of the water
  • 104 pounds of air and oxygen
  • 3,117 pounds of gear and spare parts
  • 3,375 pounds of propellant

There are also materials intended for the scheduled spacewalk on April 8 by Saint-Jacques and McClain.

More Supplies Coming

ISS astronauts can also look forward to more items this April. NASA also confirmed there will be two more cargo supply missions before the month ends. One of these is Cygnus, which will piggyback on the Antares rocket by Northrop Grumman. It will leave from Wallops Flight Facility in Virginia on April 17.

A week after, SpaceX's cargo spacecraft Dragon will leave onboard Falcon 9. It will launch from Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, Florida.

For now, Progress 72 will remain in orbit until July. Like Progress 70, it may carry rubbish, including discarded gear, to burn when it enters Earth's atmosphere.

Watch the whole journey of Progress 72 below:

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