NASA notifies Congress that it has signed a Space Station contract modification with Russia worth $490 million.
NASA will have to depend on Russian spacecraft for its missions once again. The space exploration organization is renewing its contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency. The purpose of this cooperation is the transportation of astronauts to the ISS.
The plan will extend into the far-off future. A letter got posted to NASA’s funding agents in the government. The budgetary cuts in NASA’s funding had led to the contract with Russia. And the contract was worth $490 million. Years and years of limited funding has led to this contract which came as a Godsend.
Congress has slashed a million dollars. This large amount got cut from the Commercial Crew budget set up by President Obama. Thus NASA’s launch date was postponed to two years from now.
NASA execs acknowledge that congress has provided timely handouts. Yet it is close but no cigar. Thus reliance on the Russian Soyuz has become a necessity. The trips to the ISS get carried out thanks to help from Russian.
NASA ended its own Space Shuttle program four years back. This occurred amidst lots of soul searching about space which is the final frontier. The sending of astronauts to Mars was one alternative which got looked into.
So the choice of employing the services of the Russian Soyuz got taken. A single seat on the Soyuz spacecraft costs a cool $70 million. Per year, NASA buys six seats. More funds are of the essence.
Thus the launching of crew was put off for the next two years. The head of NASA has urged congressmen to forget all past differences and look to the future. The Boeing Corporation and SpaceX will form the pillars of American industry.
NASA has deep links with both agencies. It is with their help that spacecraft may get built in the future. NASA has spent $1.4 billion in signing contracts with private agencies. The ultimate goal is secure, affordable and stable journeys into outer space.
The system will be renovated and refurbished. NASA will be using its own spacecraft for the purposes of space travel. But until then, it will have to rely on other sources such as the Soyuz.
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The crux of the matter is a lack of funds. The head of NASA urged many of the funding congressmen to reconsider their beliefs. The greatest nation on earth did not need to rely on the help of others.