MOSCOW, March 24. /TASS/. Russian Federal Space Agency plans to streamline space tourist flights to the International Space Station as of 2018 in a bid to make up for the loss of a contract with NASA for the delivery of astronauts to the ISS.
"We plan compensating for the fall of demand for manned spaceships of the Soyuz family after 2018 by resuming short-term commercial expeditions to the Russian segment of the ISS," Izvestia daily quoted a quarterly report posted by Energiya space corporation, the federal agency's main subsidiary in the field of manned orbital flights.
At present, NASA buys out the vacant third chairs on the Soyuz ships, since the U.S. does not have piloted spacecraft at the moment, as the Space Shuttle project ended in 2011. In line with the contract for 2017, delivery of an astronaut to space and back to the Earth costs $ 76 million, inclusive of training.
"Roscosmos and NASA may sign an agreement on delivery of astronauts in 2018," Izvestia said. "It may be the last agreement in the series, as NASA contractors promise to complete construction and testing of new manned spaceships the Dragon manufactured by SpaceX and the CST-100 manufactured by Boeing in 2018."
"Quite naturally, Energiya corporation will find ways of bringing people to the ISS on commercial tours," the newspaper said quoting the corporation's press secretary Irina Romanova.
In previous years, Roscosmos organized commercial tours to the ISS from time to time it took eight tourists to the ISS from 2001 through to 2009. The tourist programme was suspended afterwards, as space agency had to take astronauts to the station.