Russia is planning to attempt to break the record for the fastest crewed transfer from the launchpad to the International Space Station (ISS). The record-setting run will take just three hours with the Soyuz spacecraft running the orbiting laboratory down over just two orbits.
The proposed two-orbit rendezvous was revealed on August 3 by Russian news agency Tacc. Later that same day, Roscosmos shared the article on its official Twitter handle and confirmed that it was accurate.
To date, the fastest crewed rendezvous with the ISS is around six hours over four orbits of the Earth. The proposed two-orbit rendezvous has, however, already been tested with a Progress cargo spacecraft. Progress MS-15 was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome on July 23, 2020 and arrived at the station in a record-setting 3 hours 18 minutes.
The first crewed two-orbit rendezvous is expected to take place in October with the launch of the Soyuz MS-17 spacecraft. The mission is expected to lift off from the Baikonur Cosmodrome on October 14, 2020. It will carry Roscosmos cosmonauts Sergey Ryzhikov and Sergey Kud-Sverchkov, and NASA astronaut Kathleen Rubins.
According to an August 1 Roscosmos press release, both the primary and backup crews of Soyuz MS-17 have already begun training at the Gagarin Cosmonaut Training Center in Moscow, Russia. Once the crew has completed training towards the end of September, they will be flown from Baikonur for final launch preparations.