Washington: NASA will pay an additional $424 million to extend its contract with Russia’s federal space agency (Roscosmos) to transport US astronauts to and from the International Space Station (ISS), NASA said Tuesday.
About the move, America’s space chief said it underscores how diminished funding is hampering the US space programme.
“While our Russian counterparts have been good partners, it is unacceptable that we don`t currently have an American capability to launch our own astronauts,” NASA Administrator Charles Bolden wrote in a blog post Tuesday.
The US has relied on Roscosmos to transport its astronauts to and from the ISS aboard Soyuz spacecraft ever since the US space shuttle programme was shuttered in 2011.
The extended deal inked between the two agencies will allow US astronauts to travel aboard Russian spacecraft to the ISS through 2016 and will include return and rescue services through June 2017, NASA said in a statement Tuesday.