U.S. buys Russian Soyuz spacecraft cabin

NASA has reached an agreement with the Russian Federal Space Agency to pay more than $90 million for a space for a Russian Soyuz spacecraft to and from the International Space Station this fall, NASA reported Wednesday. NASA said the deal aims to “maintain the continued presence of the U.S. on the International Space Station” until commercial manned spacecraft enter the normal service phase.

U.S. buys Russian Soyuz spacecraft cabin

NASA officials say the agreement, worth more than $90.25 million, includes the spacecraft’s cabin itself and various training, pre-launch and post-landing services. Before the deal is reached, Russia plans to send three Russian cosmonauts to the International Space Station, so NASA will use its cargo spacecraft to deliver 800 kilograms of cargo to Russia over the next two-and-a-half years to compensate for the russian astronaut being squeezed out of the Soyuz mission this fall.

NASA has not yet announced which astronauts will fly in the newly purchased space, but the astronaut will travel to the International Space Station with two Russian cosmonauts to ease the burden on current station staff. Chris Cassidy, NASA’s only current astronaut on the space station, flew to the station in April on the last Soyuz space available to NASA and is scheduled to return to Earth this fall.

12, NASA announced the agreement. NASA is preparing for the first time since the space shuttle retired in 2011 to transport two astronauts to and from the International Space Station on a U.S. rocket. On May 27, U.S. astronauts Bob Becken and Doug Hurley will be transported to the International Space Station by SpaceX’s Manned Dragon spacecraft, the first manned test flight of the Manned Dragon spacecraft.

NASA has been waiting a long time for this moment. In 2014, NASA signed multibillion-dollar contracts with SpaceX and Boeing to commission the two companies to build manned spacecraft to send U.S. astronauts from home to the International Space Station. Currently, the two companies are manufacturing and testing manned Dragon and Starliner manned spacecraft. In the meantime, NASA has been using Soyuz spacecraft to send U.S. astronauts to and from the International Space Station, and NASA hopes to pay Russia for the last time this fall.

“The Commercial Manned Spacecraft in the United States will be operational, and NASA will no longer need to buy Soyuz cabins,” said Stephanie Schilholz, a NASA spokeswoman. “