Space Station Crew Could Soon Be Down One Cosmonaut

Money's tight for the Russian space agency

The ISS and Endeavor
The ISS and Endeavor
The International Space Station with the Space Shuttle Endeavor in 2011.NASA

There may soon be one less ticket to the space station for Russian cosmonauts, as the Roscosmos program looks for ways to cut costs.

Siince 2010, the typical International Space Station crew is composed of six people: three NASA astronauts (including one from an international partner) and three Russian-managed cosmonauts. Russian news outlet Izvestia reported the roster's potential change, citing efficiency and financial concerns.

A few factors put a strain on the Russian space agency's budget: With NASA's developing commercial crew program aiming for operation by 2017, the U.S. will no longer need to buy rides from Soyuz to the ISS at $70 to $80 million per seat. Simultaneously, Russia severely cut its program's 10-year budget to around $20 billion. One spare seat on Soyuz could make a lot of cash from private companies in need of a cargo ferry, or a tourist taxi to space. But Roscosmos has promised to support the ISS until 2024, giving both space agencies time to figure out alternatives to compensate for fewer hands on deck.

[H/T the Verge]