Washington: NASA has signed a $306 million deal with Roscosmos, Russia's Federal Space Agency, for transporting crew to the International Space Station (ISS). The new agreement extends the current contract signed in 2007.
The agreement provides NASA four Soyuz launches - two in spring 2012, and another two in the latter half of the same year. The agreement covers post-flight rehabilitation of crew members, limited cargo transit to the ISS, and trash disposal.
NASA said in a statement on Thursday that the contract modification also includes "comprehensive Soyuz support, including all necessary training and preparation for launch, crew rescue, and landing of a long-duration mission for six individual station crew members."
Roscosmos had said earlier this month that Russia would charge NASA $51 million for each seat on Soyuz spacecraft making trips to the ISS from 2012.
In 2007, NASA had signed a $719 million contract for 15 Soyuz seats on trips to the ISS as well as for 5.6 tons of cargo. That worked out to about $48 million per seat. NASA sources said that the increase in price reflects increased costs.
NASA said in April "these services are being procured through Roscosmos because the Soyuz is the only proven crew transportation and rescue vehicle [other than the Space Shuttle which is scheduled for retirement in September 2010] currently compatible and able to dock to the ISS and capable of providing the needed services."