Moscow: Russia’s Federal Space Agency Roscosmos and NASA plan to sign in autumn another contract for the use of Russia’s Soyuz spaceships to take American astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS), Tass reported citing a Roscosmos statement on Monday.
"Roscosmos and NASA have signed an agreement on taking cosmonauts to the ISS for 2017. A similar agreement for 2018 is planned to be signed in the autumn of 2015," the press service said.
Earlier, NASA announced its plans to buy six seats on board Russia’s Soyuz carrier rockets to lift US astronauts to the ISS. According to a NASA release posted on the official website of US state purchases, it also plans to sign a contract with Russia’s Roscosmos to ensure the return of space crews back to Earth in the spring of 2019.
Now, international crews are taken to the ISS by Russian Soyuz spaceships. The relevant contract between Roscosmos and NASA expires at the end of 2017. According to media, the US has to pay $76 million for one seat aboard Soyuz ships.
NASA said the new contract with its Russian partners would secure further US presence on board the ISS until the US created reliable commercial spaceships. Such ships are being developed by Boeing and SpaceX. The first manned flights are planned for 2017.