NASA signs deal with Russians for one Soyuz seat to ISS

Pioneer cover

From the press release: From the moment he is handed a possibility of making the first alien contact, Saunders Maxwell decides he will do it, even if doing so takes him through hell and back.

Unfortunately, that is exactly where that journey takes him.

The vision that Zimmerman paints of vibrant human colonies on the Moon, Mars, the asteroids, and beyond, indomitably fighting the harsh lifeless environment of space to build new societies, captures perfectly the emerging space race we see today.

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Citing a need to provide some back-up in case there are more delays getting the American manned capsules being built by SpaceX and Boeing into operation, NASA yesterday announced that it has signed a deal with Roscosmos to buy one seat on the October Soyuz launch to ISS.

The statement did not disclose the value of the deal, but NASA spokesman Josh Finch told SpaceNews the agreement is valued at $90.25 million. That includes the seat on the Soyuz spacecraft and various training, pre-launch and post-landing services. In addition, Finch said that NASA will compensate Roscosmos for bumping a Russian cosmonaut off that Soyuz mission by flying an unspecified amount of Russian cargo to the station on NASA commercial cargo spacecraft.

I wonder if there are other political reasons behind this deal, besides insuring American access to ISS. $90 million is a lot of money to the Russians, and considering their impending loss of income from NASA (with us no longer buying Soyuz seats in the future) as well as their loss of most of their commercial launch business, it could be that NASA managers wanted to shore up Roscosmos’s financial situation. Remember, at NASA there are many who swear a greater loyalty to space operations from all countries, even at the expense of the United States.


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  • Jay

    I noticed on the scheduled third manned flight of the Dragon, there will be a Russian. Is NASA charging the Russians for that seat?

  • Jay: Heh. As far as I know, the Russians get free rides, as part of the old barter agreement when the shuttle was flying. I think we simply continued it after the shuttle was gone.

    As I said, “there are many who swear a greater loyalty to space operations from all countries, even at the expense of the United States.”

  • Rose

    The continued barter agreement will mean one Russian will fly for free on each Commercial Crew flight and one American will fly for free on each Soyuz. This staggers the crew rotation to the benefit to all involved.

    NASA wanted it to start with the first post-certification, operational crewed mission, but the Russians said they wouldn’t trust a Crew Dragon until it had flown at least two crewed missions. I assume that decision involved a lot more politics than actual safety concerns.

    Doug Loverro, when announcing today that the Crew Dragon has been mounted to its Falcon 9, also mentioned that Boeing is on schedule for the repeat of it’s uncrewed flight test later this year, “entering crewed service soon after that.”

    Will the Russians want to see two successful crewed Starliner flights before they hitch a ride on one?

  • pzatchok

    ” I would like to welcome you to the Space-X Crewed Dragon flight number 4.
    Today we will be lifting off at 2:30 pm from Cape Canaveral for a flight to the International Space Station. Our meal today will be blackened salmon with fresh greens and a nice sherbet for desert. Today’s movie will be Shrek.”

    So please sit back and enjoy your flight.”

  • Rose

    Russian sources reported back in February that NASA was negotiating for two seats — one in MS-17 (the October flight mentioned above which will deliver Stephen Bowen) and one in MS-18 (Spring 2021) — expected to total $170 million.
    I’ve not read anything since about a seat on MS-18, and assume NASA skipped the “volume discount”, figuring they would negotiate for a seat on MS-18 only if they had problems with DM-2 or USCV-1.

  • Steve C

    I hope NASA lets SpaceX install a 4th seat so the Russians can sit in the back of the bus.

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