NASA Looks to Purchase Additional Soyuz Seats — From Boeing!

Credit: NASA
Soyuz and Progress vehicles docked at the International Space Station. (Credit: NASA)

After months of saying it had no plans to purchase any additional Russian Soyuz seats to take U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station, NASA is looking to do exactly that.

Only there’s a twist: NASA won’t be purchasing the seats directly from the Russians. They will be buying them from Boeing, which has obtained already purchased five seats from Soyuz manufacturer RSC Energia.

The news was revealed in a  pre-solicitation for ISS crew transportation that NASA posted on the U.S. government procurement website on Tuesday. The move comes three days before the Obama Administration ends with the swearing in of president elect Donald Trump at noon on Friday.

So, here’s the story: Boeing has purchased five seats on future Soyuz flights. These include single seats in Fall 2017 and Spring 2018 and three additional seats in 2019.

NASA is looking to purchase the seats in 2017 and 2018 to carry its astronauts to ISS. The space agency would purchase the three seats in 2019 as backups in case Boeing and SpaceX experience further delays in developing their Starliner and Crew Dragon vehicles under NASA’s Commercial Crew Program.

To date, NASA has only booked Soyuz seats through the end of 2018.  According to the latest schedule, Boeing and SpaceX are targeting the following dates for flight tests of their vehicles:

  • SpaceX Crew Dragon Demonstration Mission 1 (No Crew): November 2017
  • Boeing Starliner Orbital Flight Test (No Crew: June 2018
  • SpaceX Crew Dragon Demonstration Mission 2 (Crew): May 2018
  • Boeing Starliner Crew Flight Test (Crew): August 2018.

Assuming all goes well, the flight tests would be followed several months later by formal certification of the vehicles to carry astronauts to the space station on a commercial basis. In theory, both vehicles would be certified by the end of 2018, allowing commercial missions to begin in 2019.

However, both schedules are tight. In its annual report released earlier this month, the NASA Aerospace Safety Advisory Panel said there is a real possibility of further delays given past schedule slips and the number of technical challenges that lie ahead for both companies.

SpaceX is running about 20 months behind schedule on its first Crew Dragon flight test under its current contract. Boeing is about 16 months behind schedule.

UPDATE: SpaceNews has more on the possible deal:

Boeing gained access to the seats as part of an agreement with Energia to settle a legal dispute regarding Sea Launch. Boeing won a judgment of more than $320 million against Energia from a federal court in May 2016, but subsequent legal filings indicated that the two companies were negotiating a settlement.

“We got together with Energia and discussed what in-kind things that we could perhaps put on the table that might offset this debt,” John Elbon, vice president and general manager of space exploration at Boeing, said in a Jan. 17 interview. Part of the broader agreement between the two companies included rights to the Soyuz seats, but he said specific details of the settlement agreement between the companies were proprietary.

Elbon said that Boeing then decided to offer the seats to NASA in an unsolicited proposal to the agency. “They have expressed some interest” in the proposal, he said, leading to the sources sought filing. “We’ll go through the process and figure out if there’s an opportunity for us to make a deal.”

The near-term seats will allow NASA to add an additional crewmember to the U.S. segment of the station, which the agency was already planning to do once commercial crew vehicles under development by Boeing and SpaceX enter service. “Adding an extra U.S. crewmember in 2017 and 2018 will really help with the utilization on board and getting more hours for science,” Elbon said.

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  • Lee

    LoL, Ashley, I can see Mr B’s lips a smacking now. I hope he likes orange lipstick 🙂

  • Paul_Scutts

    Thanks for your support, Ashley, if the Friendly B knows what’s good for him/her, he’d/she’d better buzz off whilst the buzzing off is good. 🙂 Regards, Paul.

  • MrFriendly B

    Wow, the Godwin’s law at the speed of light ! No wonder that you feel alone with such pathetic “arguments”.
    Funny, this phrase was recently added to the wikipedia page :

    “In December 2015, Godwin commented on the Nazi and fascist comparisons being made by several articles on Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, saying that “If you’re thoughtful about it and show some real awareness of history, go ahead and refer to Hitler when you talk about Trump”. ”

    We’re lucky that you’re not “agressive” and that you don’t “fear being ridiculed”. I’ll leave you and Lee to your anti-nazi war and I wish you the best of luck, go get ’em !

  • Paul_Scutts

    Just to be clear, the following shows the type of person that you, and those that agree with you, admire and hold out as the person best qualified to lead the United States Of America and whom you feel that The Creator (God) will use to “bless America”.

    https://www.facebook.com/clementineford/photos/a.620818907995207.1073741829.597441976999567/1234803673263391/?type=3

  • MrFriendly B

    What a pathetic loser you are. You cant’ get over it and I like that, it means that you will suffer every day for the next eight years 🙂
    Fortunately when we fought the nazis we had real men, not such whining losers.

  • MrFriendly B

    You poor whining snowflakes, fortunately the winter will end in a few weeks…

  • Paul_Scutts

    Ok, rather than constantly hurling personal insults, answer my questions. Do you admire this individual for what he has said? How do you feel about his words? What’s you opinion of a person who would say such things? Their suitability to lead a nation? Just for the record. No personal insults, just answer my questions.

  • Lee

    Snowflakes? Oh yeah, I’ll take it! Each snowflake is unique, unlike your ilk – mass-produced ideology, braindead clones. Cueing the tears from you in approximately 6 -12 months – man, won’t you cry the hardest. Anyway, you’re now just a big, boring yawn.Go whine to people who actually care.
    Snowflakes?
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/fb093a0b636b1debef097af374d42078e818477611239304ff8ac04c1ac5cf9d.jpg

  • MrFriendly B

    Haha, the tears are not in my eyes for now.
    Thank you butthead, you make me feel so good :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXQLUVDOhyo

  • MrFriendly B

    You should go cry elsewhere and keep this website for stuff related to, you know… space stuff.

  • MrFriendly B

    I’ve said worse during my life, as you did too.
    Yes I admire him. Now can you go whine elsewhere and keep this website for stuff related to space stuff?
    I will NEVER be like you, the real fascists :
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-1IfwlIW664

  • Paul_Scutts

    Answer my questions.

  • Paul_Scutts

    More insults, who would have guessed? Answer my questions directly. I’ll repeat, in case you missed it, answer all my questions.

  • Ashley O’Connor

    Only whining one here is you princess B(itch). Defending the indefensible. You’re a skid mark on the underwear of the world. Now, take your hurt feelings and go. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/496e71ec83c4be921e47286a035496ea6d3e0f220f54bd6d5cb3760a1dc6feaa.jpg

  • Lee

    You were the one who made it about something else, with your rude and snarky comments, Boy, your little Mr UnfriendlyB must be small if you’ve made worse comments and you admire a foul mouth like Trump. Hope you don’t have women or girls in your life. Oh, and don’t tell someone else they’ve stooped to your level in what they’ve said, Stick to your own misogyny. Sad little, TINY man~ wah wah.You need to hop a seat to the ISS and stay there for the sake of hunanity. Call Boeing and bye, Felicia.

  • Lee

    Hey, you started it, man up puss boy. You should go far into space – leave the good people of Earth behind, you flog, Paging Boeing, here is an experiment on a mission to Mars, one way ticket only for MrTINYUnfriendlyB.

  • Ashley O’Connor

    If only you could grasp it. Best leave adult conversation to those who can actuallly participate. But if you’d like to have a go, start with Paul’s questions. Don’t talk the talk if you can’t walk the walk.

  • Lee

    Good luck getting anything. He’s not the sharpest tool in the shed, he’s missing a few sheeping the top paddock, and it’s too hard for his TINY, uh mind.

  • Ashley O’Connor

    Good idea Lee. Though I suspect Boeing are aiming to send intelligent life on their missions.

  • Lee

    LOLZ. Burn!

  • Ashley O’Connor
  • Lee

    *Claps more hands than were at the inauguration*

  • Paul_Scutts

    Alright, I’ll go with what you have given;

    “I’ve said worse during my life,” – Plus for honesty, Minus for not having said that you regret such things and now feel that it was disgusting behaviour and you are truly sorry.

    “as you did too.” – No, you are dead wrong. To my knowledge, I have never thought, said or done such disgusting things. I’m not perfect, far from it, but engaging in such disrespectful behaviour(s) towards other people has never been my thing.

    “Yes I admire him.” – IMO, he’s a low-life and obviously thinks nothing of “screwing” anybody over when it is to his advantage, and, buddy, you’re in the line-up as well.

    “Now can you go whine elsewhere and keep this website for stuff related to space stuff?” – I haven’t been “whining”, this attitude of yours and those who feel like you do, is far more important. IMO, what we feel, what we say and what we do (and don’t feel/say/do), will have far more serious consequences in our lives than “space stuff”.

    “I will NEVER be like you,” – That’s your prerogative.

    “the real fascists :” – In your opinion and 100% wrong.

  • MrFriendly B

    Kssss kssss, the libtards are hunting late tonight 🙂

  • MrFriendly B

    Thank you libtards, Trump’s victory tastes better from day to day 🙂
    BTW, do you have something to say about Boeing and these Soyuz seats, just in case I missed something?

  • MrFriendly B

    You were the one who made it about something else

    No, dumbass, Paulie did start this 4 days ago : “Ideology for sale, apply D. Trump, Boeing, ULA. 🙁 “
    Boy you have a lot of time to waste, get a life you libtards !

  • MrFriendly B

    Look at this, isn’t this awesome? A perfect couple for a perfect country :
    https://theconservativetreehouse.files.wordpress.com/2017/01/donald-and-melania-trump-6.jpg?w=640&h=360