NASA plans to order six more Soyuz seats from Roscosmos for 2017 in order to transport its astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) and back, RIA Novosti reports with reference to the agency.
In April 2013 NASA signed a supplement to a contract with Roscosmos (the Federal Space Agency) valued at $424 million. The contract is for delivery of crews to ISS and back along with evacuation from the orbit prior to June 2017. The previous contract valued at $753 million was signed in March 2011 and included the same “set of transport services” for the period from 2014 to June 2016.
According to the document, NASA’s Johnson Space Center plans to sign the contract with Roscosmos for six more seats on Soyuz spacecraft, crew training, navigational support, all the things required for life support systems prior to docking with ISS, search and rescue operations and post-flight rehabilitation.
At that the services in terms of search, rescue and post-flight rehabilitation will be required until spring 2018.
It is said in the statement that the first demonstration manned flight of the new American spacecraft is scheduled for autumn 2017; it can be put into operation as soon as its reliability is confirmed. That is why NASA requires Soyuz seats for 2017 (Soyuz is the only proven spacecraft able to transport the astronauts to ISS).
Roscosmos should respond to the inquiry by February 11th.