NASA not planning to buy more Soyuz seats
NASA has no plans to sign another agreement with the Russian Roscosmos State Corporation to continue astronaut transportation services to the International Space Station (ISS) via the Russian Soyuz spacecraft. The last half-billion dollar deal for six Soyuz seats, which was signed last year, ends with the Soyuz MS-11 mission scheduled for launch in November 2018 and landing in early 2019, SpaceFlight Insider reports.
“We may have actually crossed the deadline, so we’re not really looking at that. There is still sufficient overlap, and we could still do things during the overlap period,” Bill Gerstenmaier, NASA’s Associate Administrator for Human Exploration and Operations, said.
If the contract is not extended, beginning in 2019 NASA will have to rely on commercial crew services provided by Boeing and SpaceX to sustain its presence on the ISS. However, the commercial crew flights, initially scheduled to begin in 2015, have already been delayed several times.