NASA Purchases More Soyuz Seats From Russians as Commercial Crew Hedge

The Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft with Expedition 36 Commander Pavel Vinogradov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos and Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy of NASA aboard, lands in a remote area near the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. (Credit:  NASA/Bill Ingalls)
The Soyuz TMA-08M spacecraft with Expedition 36 Commander Pavel Vinogradov of the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos), Flight Engineer Alexander Misurkin of Roscosmos and Flight Engineer Chris Cassidy of NASA aboard, lands in a remote area near the town of Dzhezkazgan, Kazakhstan. (Credit:
NASA/Bill Ingalls)

NASA has announced its intention to purchase six additional seats aboard Russian Soyuz crew transports to maintain America’s presence aboard the International Space Station through 2018.

“NASA needs to secure crew transportation with a known reliable provider to ensure a continued U.S. presence aboard the ISS until the sustained availability of a U.S. commercial vehicle,” the space agency said in its notice. “The intent of this proposed action is to provide the Government the ability to procure these uninterrupted services until a U.S. provider demonstrates full operational capability.”

Boeing and SpaceX are currently working on crew transports which are scheduled to be ready to deliver astronauts to ISS on a commercial basis in late 2017. Purchasing Soyuz seats is a hedge against delays in the program.

“Given the current maturity level of the commercial vehicles and the 3-year procurement lead time for Soyuz crew transportation services, NASA must contract for Soyuz now in order to assure uninterrupted access to ISS in CY 2018,” the space agency said.

Under its most recent contract, Soyuz seats cost approximately $76 million apiece.

  • Tonya

    Orion had a cargo configuration (trunk) going back to its Ares I legacy. SLS, I don’t believe so. What would it deliver with such a massive cargo capacity, a spare space station?

  • Saturn13

    The ground berths Dragon. I suppose there is no way to close and latch the hatch from the outside or ground. It should not be hard to modify Dragon to latch from the inside. Might be harder for the ISS hatch to latch from the outside. An adapter could be attached though. I assume you mean as it is now. No research. I hope this does not cause you to do any. I have said from the start this is the way to go. I think COTS-D would have been this way.

  • Tonya

    No research, it’s just a conversation that comes up quite often on various sites, and the hatch and the technicalities of unberthing have always been ONE of the issues.

    And the short answer, is that the solution to all of them is the next Dragon.

    Unless faced with an emergency, an Apollo 13, NASA won’t “McGyver” engineering solutions. The program simply should have been funded properly years ago, and then no one would be having this conversation.

  • windbourne

    Bigelow?
    New extensions?

    Basically, when CONgress was pushing this nightmare, they were trying to cover all bases with it.

  • windbourne

    why not?
    It is far too expensive, but so far I have heard nothing that was unsafe.

  • windbourne

    Russia is the one that talks about leaving it after 2020.
    Have you not seen the many postings here?
    Personally, I suspect that they will want to stay IFF we continue to pay for their space program.

  • Paul451

    It’s incorrect to blame the DoD. It was a deliberate decision by the then NASA director to try to involve the USAF, believing it would a) make the shuttle unkillable (which it kinda did), and b) get USAF money involved (which it didn’t.) He was trying to play clever, like Jim Webb did during Apollo, and instead got burned by it.

  • Tonya

    They’ll probably just launch a scale model of the SLS, as cargo on the SLS.

  • James

    No shit? I was always told it was the DoD and the air force wanted it.

  • Saturn13

    1st flight. If they had portholes then they must have been planning to modify Dragon 1. A abort tower would have been easy. Too bad. Would have been being used by now I think.