Soyuz Transport for American Astronauts No Longer Available from April 2019

The American flag might not be seen on Soyuz capsules from next April 1 photo
Photo: NASA via The Atlantic
Since the retiring of the space shuttles in 2011, American astronauts have been hitching rides to the International Space Station (ISS) in Russian-built Soyuz capsules. Next April, this practice might end.
According to Russian news agency TASS, citing Russian Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov, the contract that allows the Westerners to fly the Soyuz will end in April 2019.

"The landing of a Soyuz MS spacecraft in April will complete the fulfillment of our obligations under a contract with NASA related to the delivery of US astronauts to the ISS and their return from the station," the vice-premier was quoted as saying by TASS at a meeting at the Energia Rocket and Space Corporation.

In a statement made last week at the Johnson Space Center, vice president Mike Pence revealed that the cost of a single seat on the Soyuz was $82 million. It’s not clear whether the Americans will continue to work with the Russians for sending astronauts to the ISS following the April deadline.

NASA already has two space transport solutions in the works with SpaceX and Boeing, and the practice of renting the Soyuz has proved to be extremely costly.

Both SpaceX and Boeing capsules are scheduled to be launched sometime next year, but it’s unlikely they will be fully functional by April.

Both SpaceX and Boeing have unmanned test flights for their capsule planned before that, but probably additional work needs to be done to make the Dragon and Starliner fit for duty.

For SpaceX’s Crew Dragon, the uncrewed mission has been designated Demo-1, and it will take off with the help of a Falcon 9 rocket from Complex 39A at NASA’s Kennedy Space Center in Florida.

Boeing Starliner’s flight will be known as the Orbital Flight Test, and it will depart atop a United Launch Alliance Atlas V rocket from Space Launch Complex 41 on Cape Canaveral Air Force Station in Florida.
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About the author: Daniel Patrascu
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Daniel loves writing (or so he claims), and he uses this skill to offer readers a "behind the scenes" look at the automotive industry. He also enjoys talking about space exploration and robots, because in his view the only way forward for humanity is away from this planet, in metal bodies.
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