New Soyuz route cuts travel time to ISS from two days to six hours
Normally, a trip from Earth to the ISS takes about two days. Thursday, a Soyuz capsule docked with the orbiting laboratory after less than six hours of flight time, setting a record. Accelerating the trip wasn't an issue of newer technology or more powerful engines, necessarily, but of better math and planning. The Russian vehicle essentially took a shortcut that required precisely timed steering over the course of four orbits, putting three crew members (including one American astronaut) on the space station at 10:28pm ET -- just five hours and 45 minutes after takeoff from Kazakhstan. Russian engineers are already looking at ways to trim more time off the trip, by cutting two more orbits from the route. Obviously the human cargo appreciates spending less time in the cramped quarters of the Soyuz. But getting equipment and materials for experiments to the ISS quicker should also yield better and more reliable scientific results. For a few clips of liftoff and the docking itself check out the NASA link in the source.
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