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NASA gives Russia additional $424 million for taxi rides to space station

NASA gives Russia additional $424 million for taxi rides to space station, NASA has signed a $424 million modification to its contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) for full crew transportation services to the International Space Station (ISS) in 2016 with return and rescue services extending through June 2017, the space agency announcement on Tuesday.

NASA is pushing for the development of new U.S. commercial space vehicles so they won’t need the Russians in the future. The space agency aims to have new space vehicles ready to transport U.S. astronauts to and from the space station in 2017. But for now, NASA will continue to rely on the Russians to ensure continued U.S. presence aboard the ISS.

“NASA is committed to launching U.S. astronauts aboard domestic spacecraft as soon as possible,” the agency said in a press statement on Tuesday. “Full funding of the administration's fiscal year 2014 budget request is critical to making these domestic capabilities possible by 2017.”

The new $424 million contract with Russia covers comprehensive Soyuz support, including all necessary training and preparation for launch, flight operations, landing and rescue of six space station crewmembers on long-duration missions. It also includes additional launch site support, which was provided previously under a separate contract. The modification will allow for a lead time of about three years Roscosmos needs to build additional Soyuz vehicles. These services will provide transportation to and from the International Space Station for U.S., and Canadian, European or Japanese astronauts.

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