NASA To Pay More To Hitch Rides With Roscosmos
Inflation has forced NASA officials to sign a revised contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) that will hike the cost of flights to the International Space Station (ISS) from $56 million per astronaut to $63 million per astronaut, according to Associated Press (AP) reports.
NASA announced what they are calling a "$753 million modification" to the existing deal which will cover "crew transportation, rescue and related services from 2014 through June 2016."
"The firm-fixed price modification covers comprehensive Soyuz support, including all necessary training and preparation for launch, flight operations, landing and crew rescue of long-duration missions for 12 individual space station crew members," the US space agency said in a press release.
The AFP is reporting that six astronauts will be shuttled onboard the Russian Soyuz capsules, which hold just three astronauts at a time, in 2014, and another half-dozen will depart for the ISS the following year. They will remain onboard the station until 2016, NASA officials said.
In the meantime, NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says that it is imperative for the US to develop some type of transportation to replace the space shuttle program, which will be terminated by the end of 2011.
"The president’s 2012 budget request boosts funding for our partnership with the commercial space industry and prioritizes our efforts to ensure that American astronauts and the cargo they need are transported by American companies rather than continuing to outsource this work to foreign governments," Bolden said in a statement.
"This new approach in getting our crews and cargo into orbit will create good jobs and expand opportunities for our American economy," he added. "If we are to win the future and out build our competitors, it’s essential that we make this program a success."
The newly-signed extension will expire on June 30, 2016.
Earlier this week, Roscosmos officials were forced to delay the launch of the Soyuz TMA-21, which will carry one US astronaut and two Russian cosmonauts to the ISS. That launch was scheduled to take place on March 30, but a technical issue has reportedly forced it to be pushed back until at least April 5 and possibly until April 10, according to various media outlets.
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