NASA to buy Soyuz seats until mid-2017 - Roscosmos

Roscosmos and NASA are negotiating a year-long extension of the contract, which assigns Soyuz seats for foreign astronauts traveling to the International Space Station (ISS).

"Legal documents with regard to transportation of U.S., European, Japanese and Canadian astronauts aboard Russian Soyuz spaceships will be drafted by late March. The contract will be valid from mid-2016 through mid-2017," Roscosmos manned programs director Alexei Krasnov told Interfax-AVN on Monday.

He said it would be premature to disclose the contract value but that would be done as soon as the contract was signed.

The extension of the contract has been being negotiated since last year, Krasnov said. The United States is interested in these services, primarily because commercial companies are not prepared to bring astronauts to the ISS and NASA does not have manned spaceships since the termination of the space shuttle program.

NASA said in March 2011 that it had signed a contract with Roscosmos on the acquisition of 12 seats in Russian Soyuz spaceships for $753 million to transport astronauts to and from the ISS from 2014 to June 2016.

The $335-million contract NASA and Roscosmos signed in April 2010 compelled Russia to provide return trips to six astronauts in 2013.

A similar agreement signed in May 2009 had the value of $306 million. Six astronauts were given transportation in 2012.

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