NASA order four Russian spacecraft

by Chris Bergin

The Russian Federal Space Agency has revealed that they have received an order for four Russian spacecraft from NASA.

The US agency has ordered two Soyuz and two Progress supply ships for NASA missions to the International Space Station (ISS).

While documents have to be signed, NASA has agreed to the price and the delivery dates of the four ships from the Russian Federal Space Agency, with Energia receiving the order.

‘NASA is willing to buy two Soyuz and two Progress spacecraft,’ Energia head Nikolai Sevastyanov was quoted by Russian media agency RIA.

‘Earlier NASA had planned to use shuttles (to carry astronauts) but the number of their flights were reduced from 28 to 17,’ added Sevastyanov – although NASA currently has a 19 flight manifest for the Shuttle.

‘Today NASA can buy Russian spacecraft… including Soyuz craft that dock with the ISS once every six months, and are used as rescue spacecraft.’

Earlier in the year it was reported that NASA was interested in buying the services of one Soyuz to allow US astronauts to travel to and from the ISS as a contingency for any problems with their Space Shuttle fleet.

With the order now comprising of four ships, the future of the US Shuttle is looking apparently bleak, according to the head of Russia’s manned flight programs Alexie Krasnov.

‘NASA wishes to retire its Shuttles as soon as possible to ensure funds for the construction of their new craft,’ he said. ‘We are happy to help with the availability of our reliable vehicles.’

The confirmation of the order was discussed in detail – and approved – at a round table debate on the space industry’s role in the Russian national security system, which was held in the Russian Parliament’s upper house.

The deal has gained momentum after the US congress made an amendment on lifting restrictions on buying Russian spacecraft.

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