Russia to stop carrying US astronauts to ISS?


#1

Hello all.

This topic is perhaps starting to border on the political side of things but I felt it worth posting as I didn’t see it mentioned on the show or follow up discussions. If it falls on the “too political” pool then by all means punt it.

Having said that

“Russia’s contract with NASA to carry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) will end in April 2019, Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov told reporters on Friday. Under the current contract, American astronauts have had access to seats on Russian Soyuz spacecraft in order to reach the ISS and return home.”

“currently Russia charges NASA about $81 million per seat on the Soyuz to fly astronauts to and from the station, up from the cheapest price of $21.8 million in 2007 and 2008. NASA signed an agreement in early 2017 to acquire additional Soyuz seats into 2019, although no further contracts involving the Russian craft have been announced.”

Lets hope those with the authority to make decisions can just extend the program.


#2

It is my understanding that it takes two to three years to build a Soyuz manned spacecraft. So, we may be pushing our luck by ordering Soyuz seats into 2019, but I think this will compel the US to finish what it started with commercial spacecraft (Dragon 2 and Starliner) and the Orion spacecraft. We should see the first test flight of a Dragon 2 before the end of this year, followed by an inflight abort test. The first Dragon 2 crewed flight should be in the first quarter of 2019.

All-in-all … Russia is going to keep building Soyuz manned spacecraft with or without our seat orders. So, if absolutely necessary they will be happy to sell a seat, initially for a Russian cosmonaut, to an American astronaut for $100 million plus.


#3

Unfortunately not. Without NASA contracts frequency of flight of the Soyuz ship drop from 4 per year now, to 3 in 2019 and 2 in 2020. If Nauka module flies to the ISS in 2019 (i hope it will) russian crew will rise from 2 to 3 person, so it don’t give a free space in Soyuz even for space tourists. If the some reason crew does not grow (this is a possible option) this will give only a 2 free seats per year. This will clearly not be enought to support NASA’s scientific program on the ISS.