MOSCOW, March 16. /TASS/. Russia’s Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and US’ National Aeronautics and Space Administration (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), Roscosmos press service said 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 onboard Russia’s Soyuz carrier rockets to lift US astronauts to the International Space Station. According to 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 the 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 US mass media, the United States 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 onboard the ISS until the United States created reliable commercial spaceships. Such ships are being developed by Boeing and SpaceX. First manned flights are planned for 2017.