The Russian Soyuz capsule has made a record breaking flight to the ISS in just one eighth the time it usually takes to get there

With the space shuttle grounded, the Russian Soyuz capsule is currently the only way to get to or from the International Space station. It’s a journey the Russian spaceship usually takes two days to complete, but today, cosmonauts Pavel Vinogradov and Alexander Misurkin, as well as astronaut Chris Cassidy, became the first crew to utilize a new shortcut.

The shortcut allows the capsule to reach the ISS in just under six hours, shorter than my average winter road trip to go skiing. The new route reaches its destination in just 4 orbits of the planet, cutting out 30 orbits and more than 45 hours of flight time.

 

The ISS – our home in the sky

 

The shortened route has been tested before, though not by humans: So far, three unmanned Russian Progress cargo ships have lifted off from Kazakhstan’s Baikonur Cosmodrome and completed the journey successfully.

 

The new ISS crewmembers will be staying on board until September, while the current occupants are due to leave in May. The new crew will be filling their days with over 181 scientific investigations, 137 conducted by the American part of the space station, and 44 conducted by the Russian part. The investigations will cover human research, biology, the physical sciences and technology development, as well as Earth observation and education.