Russian spacecraft completes fastest-ever orbital rendezvous with International Space Station

Location of the International Space Station at the time of Progress MS-09’s scheduled launch today

Location of the International Space Station at the time of Progress MS-09’s scheduled launch today

Coverage, which began July 9, aired on NASA Television and the agency´s website.

The Progress MS-09 lifted off as scheduled at 3:51 a.m. Tuesday (5:51 p.m. EDT Monday) from the Russia-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The unmanned spacecraft loaded with almost three tons of supplies docked at the station in automatic mode less than four hours after the launch.

A new four-orbit (6 hour) trajectory was introduced in 2013, but the Russians have continued trying to reduce the lag between launch and arrival both for Progress and its cousin, the crew-carrying Soyuz spacecraft.

The spacecraft will remain docked at the ISS until January 2019, NASA officials said in the statement.

Russia's space agency, Roscosmos, is getting rid of the 17-year-old module to make room for the new Multipurpose Laboratory Module (MDM), also known as Nauka, which has yet to launch to the ISS.

Now, if you don't keep up with the minutia of space travel that might just sound like a number, so to give you some context, the previous record was five hours and 39 minutes.

Space exploration agencies hope the flights will eventually allow astronauts and cosmonauts to routinely make the trip to the ISS in just a few hours - instead of the two-day journey in cramped conditions they now have to endure in order to reach the world's only orbital laboratory.

It marked the first time such fast-track approach was used.

The same thing happened with the Progress 69 cargo launch in February.

But it seemed that fortune favored Progress 70.

The Pirs module is the preferred docking port for the Soyuz and Progress vehicles.

It arrived eight minutes ahead of schedule at 9:31 pm ET. However, NASA has contracted private spaceflight companies to launch the agency's cargo shipments.

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