On Tuesday, NASA announced it had extended a deal with the Russian space agency Roscosmos to provide crew transportation services to and from the International Space Station. The deal covers bringing six astronauts up to the ISS in 2016 and rescue and return services through 2017. The price: $424 million, or about $70 million per seat, up from the $63 million per seat in the previous agreement. (The press release indicates the agreement includes some services that were previously covered under a separate contract, complicating an apples-to-apples comparison.)
The contract extension as hardly a surprise, but NASA leadership used it as an opportunity to make the case for fully funding the agency’s commercial crew program so that additional extensions of the Soyuz deal aren’t needed. “Further delays in our Commercial Crew Program and its impact on our human spaceflight program are unacceptable. That’s why we need the full $821 million the President has requested in next year’s budget to keep us on track to meet our 2017 deadline and bring these launches back to the United States,” NASA administrator Charles Bolden said in a separate blog post yesterday.