Russia Charging NASA $70 Million per Spaceship Seat

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Since the U.S. shuttle fleet was retired in 2011, NASA depends on Russia's spacecraft — and they keep raising prices.

Commercial space flight is something NASA supports. The agency is working with Boeing, Space Exploration Technologies and Sierra Nevada Corp. to develop space taxis.

But until American companies get their ships together, we rely on our old space rival Russia to get us there. That means Russians can charge whatever they want — and they are, says.

Ferrying American astronauts in Soyuz space capsules to the International Space Station through early 2017 will cost $70.7 million per seat (round trip) — about $8 million more per seat than NASA has been paying under a contract that runs through 2015.

The new deal will cost $424 million, and provide six NASA astronauts a trip to and from the space station, plus training, support and rescue services. Adjusting the agreement now gives the Russian agency enough time to build the additional spaceships needed, NASA says.

Congress needs to approve $821 million for NASA in the next fiscal year to keep its Commercial Crew program on track to provide transport to U.S. astronauts later in 2017, says. That program is helping American companies build spaceships so we won’t have to rely on Russia’s — but Congress has underfunded the program by nearly half for the past two years.

In unrelated space news, NASA is inviting the public to send haiku messages to Mars. Submissions are being accepted through July 1, when they’ll be voted on by the public. The winning messages and the names of all those who submitted poems will be put on a DVD and launched on the MAVEN spacecraft in November.

Stacy Johnson

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