Crew Hops 6-Hour Flight— to International Space Station

Trip usually takes 2 days

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Mar 29, 2013 6:16 AM CDT

(Newser) – Typically, a voyage to the International Space Station is a two-day affair. Though it's just 250 miles from the Earth, it's constantly moving, complicating the trip. But a team of three astronauts—two Russian, one from NASA—arrived at 10:28pm last night after just a five-hour, 45-minute journey, CNN reports. Normally, a spacecraft headed to the ISS circles the Earth 16 times during the trip; in the latest excursion, the Soyuz spacecraft orbited the planet just four times, thanks in part to equipment and computer software improvements.

"We're trying to cut that amount of time that they had to be in those close quarters," says a NASA rep. Still, officials may ultimately decide the longer trip is better because it gives astronauts more time to get acclimated to space. For the astronauts, many of the flight tasks are the same—they just have to be done more quickly, a NASA official says in a video. The crew will spend some six months at the ISS.

Russian Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin, top, NASA Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy, and Soyuz Commander Pavel Vinogradov, bottom, wave farewell.   (AP PHOTO/NASA, Carla Cioffi)
The Soyuz-FG rocket booster with Soyuz TMA-08M space ship carrying a new crew to the International Space Stationblasts off at the Russian-leased Baikonur cosmodrome, Kazakhstan.   (AP Photo/Dmitry Lovetsky)
This image provided by NASA-TV shows the view from the Soyuz capsule as it approaches the International Space Station Thursday, March 28, 2013.   (AP Photo/NASA)
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