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20:20 GMT +3 hours21 December 2014
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Russian Freighter 'Speed Docks' With Space Station

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A Russian cargo spacecraft performed an accelerated docking with the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday just under six hours after liftoff from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan, a spokesman for Mission Control outside Moscow said.

A Russian cargo spacecraft performed an accelerated docking with the International Space Station (ISS) on Wednesday just under six hours after liftoff from the Baikonur Space Center in Kazakhstan, a spokesman for Mission Control outside Moscow said.

A Soyuz-U launch vehicle carrying the Progress M-17M spacecraft lifted off at 11:41 a.m. Moscow time (07:41 GMT).

“The docking was carried out in automated regime as scheduled,” the official said.

The freighter delivered about 2.5 metric tons of supplies, including fuel components, oxygen, food, water and scientific equipment, to a six-man Expedition 33/34 crew onboard the orbital station.

Follow-up activities, such as hatch opening, deactivation of the vehicle, and cargo transfers will be performed later in the day.

The mission marks the final delivery of cargo to the ISS this year.

It was the second successful attempt to test the concept of shortening the time span between launches and dockings of Russian spacecraft to the ISS from the usual 50 hours to just six hours.

The first accelerated rendezvous with the orbital station was performed by the Progress M-16M space freighter in August.

Russian experts believe that the same type of maneuver could now be performed using a manned Soyuz spacecraft as early as in March next year, when the Soyuz TMA-08M voyage to the ISS is expected.