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European Space Agency ready to send its astronauts to space on board Russia’s Soyuz

The director general of ESA said that a direct agreement with Roscosmos on the matter was needed first
The International Space Station NASA
The International Space Station

ZHUKOVSKY /Moscow Region/, August 29. /TASS/. The European Space Agency (ESA) is ready to send its astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) on board Soyuz spacecraft in the future but it first needs to make an agreement with Russia’s Roscosmos State Space Corporation, ESA Director General Johann-Dietrich Woerner told TASS on the sidelines of the MAKS 2019 International Aviation and Space Salon.

The issue will be considered in the near future as a final decision is yet to be made, the ESA head added.

Rene Pischel, the head of the ESA office in Moscow, earlier told TASS that the European Space Agency might stop using Soyuz spacecraft to deliver its astronauts to the ISS. He mentioned ESA’s existing agreements with NASA and said the agency may use US manned spacecraft instead.

"If we really want to have European astronauts directly flying on Russian spacecraft, then we need an agreement, which we do not have at all," Woerner pointed out, adding that at Tuesday’s meeting with Roscosmos chief Dmitry Rogozin, ESA officials had expressed readiness to make an agreement on the matter.

"We do not pay for astronauts’ flights. We are delivering hardware to the Americans, and the Americans give us the opportunity to fly," the ESA director general noted. "When the shuttle was retired, the Americans still had to give us flights, they payed Russia to have flights for the Americans, and because we offered hardware, they gave us seats in the Soyuz," he explained. "So, it’s not that we argued we will not fly on Soyuz. But we said that this part of the agreement from ESA to NASA to Roscosmos is now ending because the Americans have their own spacecraft, and in the future their own launcher system," Woerner added.

Meanwhile, the Roscosmos head has handed down instructions to develop a bilateral agreement with ESA on the delivery of astronauts to the ISS.

Only the Russian Soyuz manned ships have been travelling to the International Space Station since 2011. They deliver Russian, US and other members of the ISS crew. SpaceX and Boeing are currently developing new spaceships for manned flights.