MOSCOW: A Russian cargo ship has delivered a fresh load of fuel, food, and other supplies for the International Space Station.
The Progress MS-09 lifted off as scheduled at 3:51 am today from the Russia-leased Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.
The unmanned spacecraft loaded with nearly three tons of supplies docked at the station in automatic mode less than four hours after the launch.
It marked the first time such fast-track approach was used. In the past, it took the Progress ships about six hours or two days to reach the space outpost.
Russia's space agency Roscosmos said the faster maneuver became possible thanks to a new version of the Soyuz booster rocket, noting that it puts the ship into the orbit with a higher precision.
Roscosmos first tried to use the new maneuver last year, but it was aborted then for technical reasons.
The station's current crew includes NASA astronauts Drew Feustel, Ricky Arnold and Serena Aunon-Chancellor, a European Space Agency's astronaut from Germany, Alexander Gerst, and Russians Oleg Artemyev and Sergey Prokopyev.