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NASA quietly buys further Soyuz seat as SpaceX prepares for historic manned house flight

NASA quietly buys additional Soyuz seat as SpaceX prepares for historic manned space flight

NASA has inked a take care of Russia’s house company Roscosmos to permit a US astronaut to journey into house aboard a Soyuz rocket within the fall, at the same time as SpaceX gears up for its first manned launch later this month.

“A contract was signed immediately on offering a seat for a US astronaut onboard a Soyuz MS manned spaceship to be launched to the ISS within the autumn of 2020,” Roscosmos instructed Tass on Tuesday.

Although the company refused to reveal the sum Washington paid for the seat, calling it “a industrial secret,” NASA spokespeople instructed reporters the deal was valued at $90.25 million, which incorporates the price of the flight, in addition to coaching and pre-launch and post-landing companies.

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NASA Administrator Jim Bridenstine stated earlier this month that the 2 international locations had been near an settlement for the seat, saying it was to be signed “inside days” and stressing that American astronauts ought to at all times have entry to the Worldwide House Station (ISS), the place the Soyuz will head in autumn.

SpaceX – the non-public spacecraft agency based by Elon Musk – in the meantime, is making ready for a historic manned mission to the ISS on Could 27, which can see NASA astronauts Doug Hurley and Bob Behnken trip the corporate’s Falcon 9 rocket into orbit, after which hyperlink up with the ISS aboard its Crew Dragon capsule. Relying on how effectively the gear performs, the duo will stay in house between one and 4 months, and will probably be changed by a crew of 4.

After struggling a sequence of delays, the upcoming launch will mark the primary manned US house mission initiated from American soil since 2011, when NASA scrapped its shuttle program, forcing its astronauts to hitch rides aboard Russian craft to the tune of hundreds of thousands of {dollars} per seat.

At a latest briefing, NASA’s program supervisor for the ISS, Kirk Shireman, stated that the choice to buy further Soyuz seats will depend upon whether or not SpaceX can supply “repeatable” missions on the Crew Dragon, not merely one profitable manned flight, including “We’ll watch how issues progress” earlier than trying to purchase one other slot on a Russian rocket.

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Roscosmos and SpaceX logos © Roscosmos; AFP / Robyn Beck
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