An unmanned Russian cargo ship arrived at the international space station Aug. 1, less than six hours after it launched into orbit. The maneuver marked the first time a same-day docking has been accomplished at the orbiting outpost.
The Progress 48 cargo freighter, packed with supplies, automatically docked with the Pirs docking compartment on the Russian segment of the complex slightly ahead of schedule, at 9:19 p.m. Eastern time, as both spacecraft passed over the Pacific Ocean. The Progress 48 launched into orbit atop a Soyuz rocket earlier in the day from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
Russia is aiming to eventually implement this same-day docking procedure for flights of manned Soyuz space capsules to the space station.
“They’re looking to eventually take this into the Soyuz phase,” Dan Hartman, NASA’s space station manager of operations and integration, said in a news briefing. “If you can get the crew to orbit in six hours and onboard the international space station, that could be a tremendous benefit over the two-plus days it takes today.”