Russia's space agency says it has developed a new way of allowing Soyuz spacecraft to travel to the International Space Station (ISS) three times faster, reducing fuel burn and the impact on cosmonauts.
The innovation reduces the number of orbits a Soyuz craft makes around the Earth before reaching the ISS, Roscosmos explained. Usually, it takes up to two days to approach the station, or six hours if a "quick launch" is performed – and even then, a spacecraft has to circle the planet several times.
Eager to boost Soyuz's efficiency, Russian space engineers have found a way to get cosmonauts to the ISS in just one rotation around the Earth. Such space flights will take roughly two hours and will save plenty of fuel and resources required for each mission. More importantly, crews will have to spend less time inside a packed Soyuz capsule.
Roscosmos is set to start using the scheme in two or three years. The agency reckons that the location of Russia's new Vostochny cosmodrome will be more convenient for quick launches than the time-tested Baikonur in Kazakhstan.
The single-turn technology will play a vital role in Russia's Moon exploration program, Roscosmos said. It may also be used for rescue operations at the ISS, when time becomes a crucial factor in saving the station's crew.