The Russian Progress 48 is raised into launch position ahead of its Aug. 1, 2012  launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The unmanned capsule will try to launch and deliver tons of cargo to the International Space Station in the same day for the first time ever (Media credit/RSC Energia)

The Russian Progress 48 is raised into launch position ahead of its Aug. 1, 2012 launch from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. The unmanned capsule will try to launch and deliver tons of cargo to the International Space Station in the same day for the first time ever (Media credit/RSC Energia)

You might not be aware, but space history may be made today if a Russian Soyuz successfully blasts off and the Progress 48 unmanned cargo freighter makes a successful rendezvous with the International Space Station.

So what? Doesn’t this happen all the time?

Well, yes. But it’s usually a two-day trip from blast-off, to orbit, to rendezvous, to docking. Today’s mission will try to put the freighter together with the ISS on the same day. This is a critical move, as “help” has always been about 48 hours away if anything ever went wrong on the station. Today’s mission could cut that down to about six hours.

Progress 48 is scheduled to launch at 3:35 p.m. EDT and dock with the ISS at 9:24 if all goes well.

If the mission is successful, it will translate into quicker arrivals and departures for crew members in the future, letting them spend more time in the station doing work instead of wasting days on the trips.

The Soyuz also isn’t exactly what you’d call “comfortable,” so if you can take a day and a half off time spent in those cramped quarters, it’s a win.