America’s humiliation: Russia soaks NASA

“The Obama administration hopes commercial U.S. companies will develop the capability to fly people to the station, so NASA can purchase flight services domestically.”

That would be nice…  -JG.

Russia raises price to fly NASA astronauts 

Toronto Sun,

Irene Klotz: Reuters- March 14th, 2011

CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. – Russia is raising the amount it charges NASA to fly astronauts to the International Space Station by more than 20 percent to nearly $63 million each, under a new contract signed Monday.

With the space shuttles being retired, NASA has relied exclusively on Russia for space station crew transport since late 2009 at a cost until now of $51 million a person.

The International Space Station is a $100 billion project of 16 nations. NASA plans two final shuttle flights, in April and June, to outfit the station, which orbits about 220 miles above Earth.

The shuttles are being retired due to high operating costs and to free up funds for NASA to develop new spaceships that can travel to the moon, asteroids and other destinations beyond the station’s orbit.

The Obama administration hopes commercial U.S. companies will develop the capability to fly people to the station, so NASA can purchase flight services domestically.

“If we are to win the future and out-build our competitors, it’s essential that we make this program a success,” NASA chief Charlie Bolden said in a statement.

The administration’s 2012 budget request for NASA includes $700 million to spur commercial crew space transportation services.

NASA’s $753 million contract modification with the Russian Federal Space Agency covers crew transportation, rescue and related services from 2014 through June 2016 for 12 space station crew members.

The contract also covers about 110 pounds of cargo per flight to the station, about 37 pounds of cargo returned to Earth and disposal of about 66 pounds of trash.

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