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Russian Space Agency

  1. The International Space Station May Be Unmanned By November

    The failure of an automated Russian Progress resupply ship to the International Space Station has raised the ugly spectre of having to temporarily abandon the station. At issue is not supplies, as the shuttle mission STS-135 brought up a cargo container filled to the brim. Instead, NASA may be forced to bring down the ISS crew without a replacement because of the lifespan of the Soyuz spaceships. These ships, long the workhorse of the Russian Space Agency, have a lifespan of only 200 days. In the case of the ships currently docked at the ISS, they are only rated through mid-November. If the problem that caused the Progress to crash is not discovered and fixed prior to the mid-November deadline, there will be no crew to replace the existing one. The problem is compounded by the fact that all Soyuz landings need to take place in Kazakstan in the daylight, further limiting opportunities to return the crew to Earth.

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  2. As Space Shuttles Retire, Russian Space Agency Raises U.S. Launch Fees

    With the Space Shuttles retiring from service and no replacement in sight, NASA will be relying on flights from the Russian Space Agency to get astronauts and equipment to the International Space Station. However, the price of those trips just went up about $7 million beginning in 2014. Originally priced at around $56 million per astronaut, the price now sits at nearly $63 million. NASA officials are being quoted as saying the increase is due to inflation, and it has not stopped them for signing a new $753 million contract extension for a dozen astronauts to fly on the Soyuz spacecraft from 2014 to 2016. Six flights are still locked in at the original $56 million. Though Soyuz rockets are the most frequently used and most reliable launch vehicles, the increase in cost underlines the importance of quickly maturing a privately operated, home-grown space industry. Some vehicles, like the SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket and Dragon spacecraft, are developing quickly with help from the federal government. Though such private space enterprises are called a vital priority by NASA administrators, Russia will be the only venue for flights until they can prove themselves. (via Winnipeg Free Press, CFNews 13, image via Wikipedia)

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