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Russia today made it official: Beginning in the spring of 2017 their crews to ISS will be reduced from 3 to 2, and will remain reduced until they launch their next ISS module.
“In case the endorsed schedule is observed and the MLM gets into operation in December 2017, the curtailment will affect only one Russian crew,” the source said. “Otherwise the practice of curtailment will continue until the commissioning of the module.”
The Russian state space corporation Roscosmos has to downsize the ISS mission crew as the number of Progress cargo ships launched to the ISS annually will be reduced to three from four at present in the wake of NASA’s refusal to continue using the Progresses and to change over to new U.S. cargo carriers instead, the source said, adding that three Progresses a year is not enough to support three cosmonauts working at the ISS permanently.
The finances will get even more squeezed when the U.S. no longer needs them to launch its astronauts.