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WASHINGTON, March 9 (Itar-Tass) — The US will be forced to use Russian services to deliver its astronauts to the International Space Station, paying for this 450 million dollars annually, said NASA director Charles Bolden at hearings in the US House of Representatives.
The US will have a chance to send an American crew to the ISS without Russia’s aid only in 2017, the head of the US space agency said. According to Bolden, this situation has emerged over unlucky planning in previous years, and now it should be undone.
The US gave up the use of shuttles, the last of which made a flight last summer, and is developing a new spacecraft and a heavy carrier. True, Bolden said earlier that the US can make the first flight in 2017 without a crew and with a crew only in 2021.
NASA signed contracts with Roskosmos (Russian Space Agency), for the time being, till the spring of 2016. The draft budget of the US space agency for the next fiscal year notes that six seats for American astronauts were reserved at four Soyuz spacecraft in 2013. If NASA has no such spaceships after 2016, it will have to purchase such services from Russia.
“I’m going to pay the Russians $450 million a year for every year that I don’t have an American capability to put humans into low-Earth orbit,” Bolden said in an emotional enough speech at the Congress. He added that “I know you don’t want to do that … but that’s the price I pay,” he stressed addressing legislators.
NASA supposes to spend 1.3 billion dollars in 2013 for bringing astronauts and cargoes to the station and three billion for the ISS programme as a whole.
The budget of the US space agency is to shrink the next fiscal year and will total 17.7 billion dollars. The saving of state funds in connection with the economic crisis will tell most of all on NASA research programmes, including explorations of the moon and Mars.
At the same time, it is planned to boost substantially appropriations for the development of American spacecraft so as to wipe out in future the dependence on Russia on the delivery of crews to the ISS.