Russia Hikes Price for Space Rides to $70 Million

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Unsure when U.S. companies will be ready to fly astronauts to the International Space Station, NASA has signed up for six more rides with the Russian space agency, at a cost of $70 million apiece.

The contract covers rides on Russian Soyuz spaceships through June 2017 and includes a price hike of $5 million a seat since NASA’s last purchase. In addition to round-trip rides on Soyuz spaceships, the contract includes training and other support services, NASA said.

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Russia was left the sole provider of crew transport to the station following the retirement of the U.S. space shuttles in 2011.

NASA is supporting efforts by three companies — Space Exploration Technologies, Boeing and Sierra Nevada Corp — to develop seven-person space taxis that also would be available for commercial service.

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The agency is requesting $822 million in the fiscal year that begins Oct. 1 to keep its so-called Commercial Crew program on track to provide an alternative to Russian flight services before the end of 2017.

Image: The Soyuz launches from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. Credit: Roscosmos

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