Astronauts go from Earth to the ISS in a record six hours

NASA/Carla Cioffi
The Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft launches from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

Getting around the world on Earth can be a hassle. But if you think a 18-hour flight from Los Angeles to Singapore seems ridiculously long, just imagine how ISS-bound astronauts have to spend days floating around in a tin can.

Normally, a trip to get aboard the International Space Station takes about two days orbiting around the world 36 times in the span of 50 hours. Last week, though, NASA and Russian Federal Space Agency scientists managed to cut this space faring trip down to a mere six hours—making it just about on par with a non-stop flight from New York to San Francisco.

A Soyuz capsule carrying three new Expedition 35 crew members—including Soyuz Commander Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos, and NASA astronaut Chris Cassidy—arrived at the International Space Station just five hours and 45 minutes after takeoff from Kazakhstan. The scientists expedited the trip using expert mathematical plotting and precise engine burns that reduced the number of orbits down to four.

This isn’t the first time we’ve heard about shortened trips to space. Last summer, Roscosmos and NASA teamed up to send unmanned supply Soyuz capsules out for same-day deliveries . Since then, the scientists say they have successfully tested this technique with the last three Progress cargo vehicles.

This latest development could be a huge boon for quicker and more regular space travel for both astronauts as well as for sending up crucial supplies to the ISS.

[NASA via Wired UK]

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