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.
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