Air cargo is supposed to be the fastest-possible delivery mode on the planet, but once you leave Earth, you have to hand it to the Russians.
This week, Russia’s space program upped our standard for “express delivery,” shipping 3 tonnes of food, fuel and supplies to the International Space Station (ISS) in just 3 hours, 48 minutes – breaking the record for fastest space cargo mission to orbit.
The “Progress 70” spacecraft, propelled by the old reliable Soviet-era Soyuz booster, departed on the 140,000 km (86,000 miles) roundtrip journey from Kazakhstan at 5:51 p.m. eastern daylight time (EDT) on Monday and arrived at the ISS by 9:31 p.m.
Six-person Expedition 56, comprised of three Americans, two Russians and one German crew members, launched last month and is set to return in October. The group is studying the behavior of atoms in extreme conditions and conducting tests that could “expand navigation capabilities and prepare for future travel far from Earth,” said an ISS statement.
“The less-than-four-hour trip will demonstrate an expedited capability that may be used on future Russian cargo and crew launches,” NASA officials said.