Russia Tests Quick Trip to Space Station

Two-day trip to be compressed to 6 hours—but it might complicate international cooperation

4 min read
Russia Tests Quick Trip to Space Station
Photo: RSC Energia

1 August 2012—Today a Russian space experiment is testing a new flight plan for visits to the International Space Station (ISS) that harks back to the very first rendezvous missions of the 1960s. If it works, it could become the standard, not only for all Russian spacecraft but also for Western vehicles from both government and private operators. And that might be a problem.

Called a fast rendezvous scheme, the time from launch to docking is about 6 hours, as opposed to the current time frame of two days. According to Rafail Murtazin, one of the designers of the new scheme, the two-day plan “is one of the most stressful parts of the space flight,” and shortening it will make the trip more tolerable for flight crews. “In that case, trios of astronauts will not have to spend two days in tight quarters suffering from vertigo and nausea,” a Russian space program spokesman told the news agency Interfax earlier this month.

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Two men fix metal rods to a gold-foiled satellite component in a warehouse/clean room environment

Technicians at Northrop Grumman Aerospace Systems facilities in Redondo Beach, Calif., work on a mockup of the JWST spacecraft bus—home of the observatory’s power, flight, data, and communications systems.

NASA

For a deep dive into the engineering behind the James Webb Space Telescope, see our collection of posts here.

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