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WASHINGTON, May 1 (Itar-Tass) - NASA said on Tuesday it had signed a 424 million dollar modification to its contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) to use Soyuz spaceships for crew transportation to the International Space Station in 2016 with return and rescue services through June 2017.
NASA hopes to launch U.S. astronauts onboard domestic spaceships by the middle of 2017. NASA’s new spaceship Orion and rocket carrier are being built by Boeing and Lockheed Martin Space Systems.
Moreover, several more companies work on the construction of commercial spaceships that can be used at NASA’s order.
The United States started to use Roscosmos’s crew transportation services after NASA retired the Space Shuttle in 2011, after 30 years of service.
Experts said over the past several years the United States had paid Russia approximately $65 million per seat aboard Soyuz.
“This modification to the Roscosmos contract will ensure continued U.S. presence aboard the space station,” NASA said in its statement.