It was just a few days ago that SpaceX shot one of its Dragon cargo ships into space, and it was packed with supplies for the crew of the International Space Station. Now, Russia has done the same with its Progress 73 cargo vessel, only this time it arrived much more rapidly.
The spacecraft, which was sent skyward atop a Russian Soyuz rocket, completed two orbits of Earth as it sped towards its destination and made its way from Earth to the space station in just over three hours, which is a breakneck pace.
Russian space agency Roscosmos has pioneered these ultra-fast resupply trips, routinely setting records for speed and dramatically shortening the arrival time for its Progress freighters.
The amount of time it takes for a ship to travel from Earth to the ISS is dependent on the number of orbits it has to complete in order to get into position around the space station for docking. Older Progress launches took a minimum of four orbits to accomplish that feat, but more recent missions have cut that number in half, as well as the overall trip time.
As Space.com reports, the Progress 73 delivery includes nearly 5,500 pounds of supplies, including 110 pounds of oxygen, 926 pounds of water, and over 1,700 pounds of fuel. Food, clothing, and other miscellaneous supplies make up the rest of the cargo, which the crew will gradually unload now that the cargo ship has successfully docked.
The current crew of the ISS is beginning Expedition 60 which will last for several months. A whole host of new experiments are planned, and some are already underway, so we can expect a steady flow of news out of NASA and their Russian counterparts in the months ahead.