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Russia to stop flying U.S. astronauts to International Space Station

Staff Writer |
Russia’s contract to ferry NASA astronauts to the International Space Station aboard Soyuz rockets will end in April, Deputy Prime Minister Yuri Borisov told reporters.

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The expiration piles additional pressure on the National Aeronautics and Space Administration to restore its capability to shuttle U.S. crew members back and forth to the orbiting lab. The space agency is contracting with Boeing Co. and SpaceX to develop new vehicles to transport astronauts, but the work has been plagued by delays.

A Soyuz flight planned for April 2019 “will complete the fulfillment of our obligations under a contract with NASA related to the delivery of U.S. astronauts to the ISS and their return from the station,” Borisov said at the Energia Rocket and Space Corp., reported by TASS, Russia’s official news agency.

Russia is expected to provide rides for astronauts through November 2019, the planned return date for a Soyuz capsule from the space station, according to a July report to Congress from the Government Accountability Office.

“Obtaining additional Soyuz seats seems unlikely, as the process for manufacturing the spacecraft and contracting for those seats typically takes three years — meaning additional seats would not be available before 2021,” the report said.

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