For those who are upset that NASA will be relying on (and paying) the Russian Federal Space Agency to ferry US astronauts to and from the International Space Station after the space shuttle is retired, there’s now more to be in a tizzy about. NASA has signed a $335 million modification to the current ISS contract, adding additional flights into 2014. The previous contract allowed for crew transportation, rescue and related services until 2013. The new extension raises the price of a seat on the Soyuz to $55.8 million, from the $26.3 million per astronaut NASA is paying now, and $51 million a seat for flights in 2011 and 2012.
From the NASA press release:
The firm-fixed price modification covers comprehensive Soyuz support, including all necessary training and preparation for launch, crew rescue, and landing of a long-duration mission for six individual
station crew members.
In this contract modification, space station crew members will launch on four Soyuz vehicles in 2013 and return on two vehicles in 2013 and two in 2014.
Under the contract modification, the Soyuz flights will carry limited cargo associated with crew transportation to and from the station, and disposal of trash. The cargo allowed per person is approximately 110 pounds (50 kilograms) launched to the station, approximately 37 pounds (17 kilograms) returned to Earth, and trash disposal of approximately 66 pounds (30 kilograms).