A resupply mission for the International Space Station, Progress MS-11, took off yesterday from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, eventually docking with the space station and providing its inhabitants with over 5400 pounds of supplies.
The mission, which was carried out by the Russian space agency "Roscosmos", took just three hours and 21 minutes to go. from Earth to a successful docking with the ISS. That's incredibly fast, and it's actually the fastest trip to the International Space Station ever, beating out the previous record (also set by the Progress Resupply spacecraft) by a solid 19 minutes.
The feat was enough for NASA's ISS residents to Take notice, with astronaut Nick Hague hailing the accomplishment as "impressive."
Getting from Earth to the International Space Station requires a resupply spacecraft to make multiple orbits of Earth, but the number of times it completes the orbit can vary. For a while, resupply ships made dozens of orbits before catching up with the ISS, but that all changed relatively recently with "fast-track" launches that allowed the ship to catch ISS in just two rotations.
These changes dramatically shorten The time it takes for supplies to make it to the ISS, saving Roscosmos time and expanding the delivery of things like food, water and oxygen.
Ensuring that resupply missions operate as effectively as possible is something that Russia and NASA have been working on for some time now. , and we're just starting to see the fruits of that labor with faster missions. Going forward, it's not clear if there's much more space to shave off the time, but you can bet Roscosmos will try.