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 Space.com video. The crew will spend some six months at the ISS.