American astronauts could be forced to fly on Russian spacecraft beyond 2017 if Congress continues to cut funding for private crewed vehicles, NASA chief Charles Bolden says.
On Tuesday (April 30), NASA announced that it will pay $70.7 million each for six more seats aboard Russian Soyuz space capsules. The $424 million deal keeps Americans launching to the International Space Station aboard the Soyuz through 2016, with return and rescue services extending until June 2017.
Funding cuts to NASA’s Commercial Crew Program have delayed the development of private American space taxis, making this latest deal with the Russians necessary, Bolden said. And future cuts could bring about the purchase of even more Soyuz seats, he added