Cargo delivery in space is expected to take about two days. Russia, however, has been working on a new delivery method that promises delivery in under four hours. The time frames have decreased in increments since the year 2013. First decreasing to six hours and now to four. The four hour time frame has yet to be tested, as the recent delivery presented with complications. The series of Progress ships from Russia have a solid history of successful deliveries.
The two-day flight-plan of a Progress cargo ship takes significant trips around the earth prior to reaching the International Space Station. This two day plan orbits the earth a total of 34 times. The newer six hour mission has decreased this to only four orbits. The newest method requires a minimal number of two orbits around the earth and promises deliver in 3.5 hours. Specialized rockets enable these extremely fast cargo trips. The Soyuz rockets, like the one on the Progress 69, have been used repeatedly for cargo and manned missions by the Russians.
The recent Progress 69 was equipped with a Soyuz 2.1a rocket built in Russia. During takeoff, two umbilical towers are meant to break away from the rocket. There is specific timing to every part of a rocket launch. The towers are timed to release seconds apart. The recent Progress 69 launch presented with a complication in the timing of the second tower. The first tower let go as projected at the 35-second mark while the second one failed to function properly at 12 seconds before liftoff. The second tower release prompts the launch and engine sequences. The entire process depends on the perfect timing and execution of actions. Once a mission is aborted it is usually reverted to a traditional two-day delivery.
Russian cargo ship and rocket development have been a big part of maintaining the International Space Station. Continued progress and faster delivery times have made it possible to send regular supplies, as well as emergency items, quickly and efficiently.