Russian cargo ship arrives at International Space Station

A Progress MS-series vehicle approaches the International Space Station for docking

The abbreviated two-orbit rendezvous space station would be a first for the program.

The first attempt occurred in October 2017 using the Progress 68 spacecraft, but a last-minute delay forced Roscosmos to shift to the older, 2-day flight profile due to the orbital mechanics needed for the faster trip. It was launched at 5:51 p.m. ET by a Soyuz-2 rocket from Kazakhstan's Baikonur Cosmodrome. The less-than-four-hour trip demonstrated an expedited capability that may be used on future Russian cargo and crew launches.

'ARRIVAL! Traveling about 250 miles over the Tasman Sea between Australia and New Zealand, the unpiloted Russian Progress 70 cargo ship docked to the @Space_Station at 9:31pm ET'.

The goal is to shorten the time it takes a crew to reach the station inside a cramped Soyuz ferry ship, a trip that traditionally took two days, or 34 orbits. Progress 70 will stay linked to the space station until January 2019, when it will be discarded, NASA officials said.

Here are SpacePolicyOnline.com's tidbits for July 9, 2018: fastest-ever Progress docking with ISS; but is Russia's space program entering the "dark ages"? Because the launch was aborted during the final moments of the countdown, the mission missed its chance to take the fast route to the ISS. The vehicles look like Russia's crewed, three-module Soyuz spacecraft but can not carry people. However, NASA has contracted private spaceflight companies to launch the agency's cargo shipments.

The European Space Agency has also launched cargo to the ISS with that agency's Automated Transfer Vehicle, the last of which flew in 2014.

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