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.