Russian spacecraft breaks record for fastest trip to space station

An unmanned spacecraft flew to the International Space Station Monday in less time than it takes to fly from Toronto to Edmonton on a passenger plane.

Unmanned Progress spacecraft docked less than 4 hours after launch

A previous Russian Progress resupply ship is pictured docked to the International Space Station's Pirs docking compartment as it orbited over the Atlantic Ocean. (NASA)

An unmanned spacecraft flew to the International Space Station Monday in less time than it takes to fly from Toronto to Edmonton on a passenger plane.

The Progress 70 spacecraft loaded with food, fuel and other supplies, blasted off as scheduled aboard a Soyuz-2 rocket from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan at 5:51 p.m. ET. 

The spacecraft docked at the space station at 9:31 p.m. ET

"The less-than-four-hour trip will demonstrate an expedited capability that may be used on future Russian cargo and crew launches," NASA said in a news release.

Russian spacecraft are already faster than most others heading to the space station. Since 2013, Soyuz spacecraft have been ferrying astronauts and cosmonauts to the space station in less than six hours, following successful tests with unmanned Progress spacecraft.

Most other spacecraft take two or three days to make the journey. Recently, SpaceX's Dragon capsule launched on June 29 and didn't arrive at the space station until July 2.

This was the third attempt by the Russian space agency Roscosmos to make the trip at this speed, following just two orbits of Earth. During the first two attempts in October 2017 and this past February, launch delays forced the Russians to revert to an older trajectory that requires 34 orbits and two days.

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