MOSCOW, July 10. /TASS/. Experts at Russia’s Rocket and Space Corporation Energia, the developer and manufacturer of space launch vehicles, find it possible to design a pattern of launching space vehicles towards the International Space Station that will involve only one revolution around the Earth, the Russian State Space Corporation Roscosmos said in a report on Tuesday.
"In the future, a one-revolution pattern of rendezvous with the ISS might be possible but this will be at the next stage of our efforts," it quoted Sergei Romanov, Energia’s First Deputy Designer General.
Earlier on Tuesday, the Progress MS-09 cargo craft reached the ISS for the first time ever after two revolutions around the Earth. Its flight lasted only 3 hrs 40 mins versus the previous 6 or so hours taken up by a pattern presupposing four revolutions around the planet.
Energia space flight strategists hope that the two-revolution pattern will be applied to manned missions, too, but this will require several more launches of the Progresses on two-revolution rendezvous.
"We’re considering another two or three dockings of cargo crafts [with the ISS] and we’ll then try the pattern at the Soyuz [manned] spacecraft," Romanov said. "This means the cosmonauts will be docking with the ISS only three hours after the launch."
"We’ve failed to implement the fast-track rendezvous pattern at two previous Progress vehicles as we had to reschedule the launches to backup dates after the automatic controls gave us the shutdown command," he said.
By the backup up dates, however, the orbits would already drift apart, Romanov said.
After a few major improvements, however, it will be possible to use the formula on a regular basis, he said, adding that the reduction of rendezvous meant a shortening of the cosmonauts’ stay in confined space and a more comfortable journey to the ISS.