The Russians are teaching the Americans an important lesson in capitalism: where there's high demand for a scarce commodity, costs will rise. NASA and its Russian counterpart inked a new $753 million modification to its current International Space Station transportation deal Monday, securing seats on the Russian Soyuz spacecraft from 2014 to 2016 at a price of almost $63 million per seat. The old contract, which runs until 2014, reserves seats on the Soyuz for just $56 million.
The new deal is a bridge between the end of the old contract in 2014 and the expected emergence of a homegrown commercial manned space transportation system sometime in the middle of the decade. It secures a place for six crew members for launch in 2014 and six more the following year along with the return of both crews, with the second crew returning in 2016 after a six-month stint on the ISS.
With NASA's retiring of the space shuttle fleet later this year, the Russian Soyuz has the market cornered as far as manned transportation between the Earth and the ISS is concerned. Whether or not that has anything to do with the uptick in per-seat price is pure speculation, but NASA chief Charles Bolden took the opportunity Monday to remind Americans and American companies of the importance of developing a space transit option that's made in the U.S.A.
"The president's 2012 budget request boosts funding for our partnership with the commercial space industry and prioritizes our efforts to ensure that American astronauts and the cargo they need are transported by American companies rather than continuing to outsource this work to foreign governments," Bolden said in a statement. "This new approach in getting our crews and cargo into orbit will create good jobs and expand opportunities for our American economy. If we are to win the future and out build our competitors, it's essential that we make this program a success."
What a surprise- give them a monopoly on human spaceflight, and the price starts to climb! I really hope SpaceX and the other companies can get up and flying soon.
I am not sure if companies like spaceX have any immediate plan to do cargo runs to space. They only seem interesting in space tourism and super low earth orbit. but I hope somebody picks up the slack. I just watched the last ep of top gear this season. They had the new MOON buggy that was built for our return trip to the moon. very sad to see such an amazing vehicle, and it may never ever get used on the moon.
Any contract with Russia is not even worth the paper on which it is written.
Otto von Bismarck
I am to depressed by the state of America's space program to make any of my usual sarcastic comments.
I know EXACTLY how you feel Boincman. I remember watching the liftoffs of the Apollo program. I was only like 4 years old at the time but I can still remember the feeling and how proud to be Americans we were at that time. We WERE in the lead…no question about it. We could go to the moon then. Now, 40+ years later, we can not even put our astronauts into low earth orbit by ourselves!
All I can say to the govt. is that I hope you got some sort of satisfaction out of what ever it was you were trying to do! Your short sighted management of the nations scientific and engineering resources has trashed the technological Aerospace lead that the previous generations had worked for.
Good, keep them to yourself and get informed instead of just bit#hing...SpaceX is on schedule to start servicing the ISS this year if all the tests go well...SpaceX will fly at least 12 missions to carry cargo to and from the International Space Station as part of the Commercial Resupply Services contract for NASA...Dragon’s first-ever on-orbit performance was 100% successful in meeting test objectives including maintaining attitude, thermal control, and communication activities. While in orbit, eight free-flying payloads were successfully deployed, including a U.S. Army nanosatellite—the first Army-built satellite to fly in 50 years. SpaceX will deliver cargo and astronauts to the ISS and are planning a possible trip to the moon. This is definately the way to go. The Space Shuttles are obsolete, too expensive, and should have been done away with long ago, so quit moaning.
my last comment was for boincman...it goes for you too, matsci1
boincman did NOT make the comment about SpaceX….inaka_rob did. Thank god there are people like Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX (he also founded PayPal), and Sir Richard Brandson, the driving force behind Virgin Galactic. Without initiative from people in the private sector…again I stress private sector…the mess would be worse than it is.
I will repeat…in the late 1960´s we had the capability to go to the moon. The Saturn V existed and that is a fact. It was built with technology that is now over 45 year old but nonetheless it accomplished its mission. Now in 2011, with our vastly improved industrial and engineering competence, does America have the same space faring capability today? Hu??? My God the engineers back then did not even have pocket calculators…they went to the moon using slide rules! But that shows what can be done when the resources are made available to people that have the will to get the job done.
Also, my comment about America not being able to put its own astronauts into orbit. Read the beginning of the second paragraph of the article…
“The new deal is a bridge between the end of the old contract in 2014 and the expected emergence of a homegrown commercial manned space transportation system sometime in the middle of the decade”
Although the SpaceX “Dragon” ship has several flights scheduled for 2011, it is not apparently man rated yet. Here is a link to the SpaceX flight manifest:
All the dragon flights listed until 2015 are resupply missions.
If it did have the capability to carry astronauts, why are we outsourcing the manned flights to the Russians…who, by the way, we beat in the 1960´s in the moon race? Hu?????
Thus I repeat…America does not even have the capability to get its own astronauts to low earth orbit.
The initiative and pioneering spirit that put Americans on the moon 42 years ago this July still exists. It can be seen in companies like I mentioned above, SpaceX and Virgin Galactic. Also add to that Bigelow Aerospace with their innovative idea to build space stations modules
However the support from the government for research and development of the next generation spacecraft is not there as it was earlier. THAT is the reason I direct the fault at Washington. We have the people and the capability. However, they are not being supported in way that would have allowed America to not only keep the lead it had before in this area but to also to take on even greater space faring challenges than a moon landing. The majority of the initiative has to come from the private sector now.
Here is a link to the 40th anniversary video of the Apollo 11 launch. It shows what can be done when initiative is supported.
first off, i directed my comment to boincman because of his ignorant comment about the US space program, never said spacex is capable of sending men in orbit now, however, spacex is where they are now because of the support from nasa and soon will be capable of manned flights around 2015, there is nothing wrong with flying aboard a soyuz rocket until the time we have our own, international cooperation in space is just as essential as it is on the ground, the space shuttles are way past their service life, are obsolete and too expensive, inakarob did make the comment about spacex, i can read, faulting washington for not directing research and development into new systems is ignorant of the fact it is providing invaluable support to private space ventures to speed the process and assist them until they can stand alone with these new systems (profitable and safe)
I agree totally the shuttle should be retired. Its first launch was in 1981 so we are working with a 1970´s era design concept. It worked well for its time, but its time has passed. My complaint about the short sightedness of the government is (Note I say government and not NASA) is that there were Single Stage To Orbit models presented to them and they did not follow through after the concept phase. For instance the X-33 (concept test for the Ventur Star) from Lockheed Martin...cancelled in 2001 as a govt. project but continued by the company.
But there is a model for a SSTO that is getting attention lately…the Skylon
However, it is not being built by America but rather by the United Kingdom. The development cost is estimated at 12 billion dollars (2004)
Just how “Committed” is the U.S. government to its own space faring capabilities? A political science professor that I had in college once said in class. “If you want to know what the REAL policies are, never mind what the politicians say…read the budget.”
The Federal budget in 2010 was 3.552 trillion
The whole budget for NASA in 2010 was 18.686 Billion…4th page of the PDF link below
that is 0.5% of the national budget. Now the man on the street usually does not spend in billions and trillions. So to put this into the perspective of everyday numbers…If the government had 1 dollar, they did not even give NASA 1 whole penny out of it…they gave them a half pennies worth. Actually, in U.S. coins, we do not even have a half penny. That is how “Committed” the U.S. govt is to NASA.
Who are they more committed to? Look at this…the Foreign Aid Budget for 2012…32.9 billion (Almost double what NASA got) and that is just for the “Core Services”
The govt.seems to be more in favour of passing the taxpayers dollars out overseas rather than giving them to one of the agencies that is advancing the country the most.
You write “there is nothing wrong with flying aboard a soyuz rocket until the time we have our own” Well we do not have much choice now do we? We do not have one of our own at this time and that is EXACTLY the point I am making. Bottom line…the America lead in the area of space exploration has diminished and this is due to the short sightedness and mismanagement of the people that have been in charge of guiding and providing funding for the research and development programs. I would not be surprised if I opened the door on a Senate Appropriations Committee meeting and saw that the chairman was Mr. Magoo.
Yes, you are correct that the govt. is buying missions from the private launch companies. Aside from the military missions that McDonald Douglass usually launches on its Delta rocket series, most of the money for that comes out of the NASA budget…which (the whole budget and not the money provided for launch services) is 0.5% of the national budget.
In relative terms…that is not much support at all.
You also write “international cooperation in space is just as essential as it is on the ground”. We did not need anyone when we went to the moon. America did that by itself. I do not agree with you when you say that international cooperation is “Essential” for America in space. What makes it “Essential” is a Senate Appropriations Committee that does not have the will to direct enough of the countries resources into the necessary projects.
Fortunately, technology is getting the to point where space faring projects are getting in reach of the private companies. Comparing what we were able to do in the past to what we can accomplish today, it is obvious that the govt. does not have America’s advancement as a space faring nation as a priority.
@matsi1...i agree with nearly all of your post...politics are to blame for most of our problems, including the irresponsible under funding of NASA...i firmly believe that humanities suvival depends on an international space effort to expand off this planet and also to protect it from impact events, ect,ect,ect...take care...are you running for president?:)
Running for President?......Naaaaa. I just do my science at the moment. However, I am quite politically active. Who knows what the future holds though.
Man never walked on the moon, get that fantacy out of your head. Think about it....40 years ago they could go to the moon (haven't been back since). And today they can't even put a man in space. NASA has given up on manned space flight...they cannot get past the van allen blets. Thats a fact, sorry to burst your bubble.
I say NASA should simply serve as an FDA for space travel and allow for private enterprise in space. I believe that Skylon, Bigelow Aerospace, and X-Cor are the best options for log term space travel. I hope that these companies will even begin to attempt to build permanent space settlements (but still under the regulations of earth).
Wow matsci1 I agree with you SpaceX, Virgin, and Bigelow Aerospace are all doing a great job in the privatizing of space exploration. I try to follow their contributions regularly. I also like the ideas and concepts Skylon is trying to develop although I personally don't see them as viable in the next 4 years, maybe in 10+ we will see their vision realized.
Hopefully Spacex in my opinion will solve the problem this article is about. Being a US citizen myself I hope our government will do more to support US company's instead of outsourcing our ability to transport US interests into space.
As for the retirement of the shuttle program. I think its a bad idea! Not the retirement of the vehicles themselves, that's a given. Something gets outdated it needs to be replaced with newer and more up to date vehicles. I said this in another post as well because I think people have forgotten what the Shuttle Program was originally created for. We didn't have a space station at that time and now that we do. People only think of it as a way to ferry people and supplies to it. I think SpaceX could handle that but as for complicated satellite repairs, deployment and short-term experiments in space for US only interests we need a new Program just for that. I am not against international cooperation, and if our country was one that I thought needed to go in jointly on every space oriented venture in order to be a part of it I would still be proud of achieving those goals in this fashion, however I think the US has been one of the leaders in space exploration and think that its ability to continue to boast this statement will not be accomplished by totally scrapping the shuttle program. The US should at least form a new program aimed at producing the same or even greater achievements than the old shuttle program.
I do have an idea for one such possible goal of this new program. There is reportedly a lot of space debris orbiting earth. I would like to see the testing of a small orbital metal refinery that is tested using whatever trash is up there. I hear all these long term colonization goals that talk of using asteroids and or refining those resources on the moon or mars as if we already have that technology. I say prove it and clean up the earths orbit at the same time. Also this would require a mobile ship that can move around between low and high earth orbits giving us more data on our ability to harvest resources, build new things with said resources, and a practical method for testing what I hear so many people quote as the easy part of the colonization process.
Thanks for reading
People who say "It's as easy as taking candy from a baby!" have never tried taking candy from a baby!