WASHINGTON, July 20. /TASS/. NASA neither confirmed nor disclaimed the information it has been discussing with the Russian space authority, Roscosmos, a possible extension of the agreement on delivery of US astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) by Russian Soyuz spaceships.
NASA’s press service told TASS they would rather refrain from comments.
The recent accident with the US Falcon-9 during the launch of Dragon cargo ship to the ISS is among possible reasons to search extension of the agreement. Privately owned SpaceX will be using a similar carrier to launch its ships, which is designed on the basis of the cargo ship. The accident threatens SpaceX’s plans to make and test the ship by 2017.
Nor can NASA be sure Boeing will manage to produce by that time another private ship for flights to the orbital complex.
Thus, the space agency will have to continue using services of the Russian space authority to deliver its astronauts to the ISS. The current agreement’s term is to 2017, and it may be now extended for another year, or even more. Local media say NASA pays about $76 million per one seat on board a Soyuz.
In 2014, due to the situation around Ukraine, the US practically completely stopped cooperation with Russia in the space sector, with the exception for use of the ISS. American experts say the station, for which NASA is paying annual expenses over $3 billion, is a unique platform for scientific, including medical and biological, research, which is necessary for preparing a manned flight to Mars.