NASA to Continue Flying Astronauts on Russian Soyuz: Report

NASA is likely to continue flying its astronauts about the Russian Soyuz vehicle even after US commercial Team vehicles arrive, Press report said.

However, nothing was signed officially however, an agency spokesperson said.

“Bill Gerstenmaier and senior NASA leadership have stated their intention to have US crewmembers on Soyuz vehicles after 2019 and (to have) Russians on US crew vehicles,” Stephanie Schierholz, who works in public affairs at NASA Headquarters in Washington, was quoted as stating to Space.com on Tuesday.

Gerstenmaier is the associate administrator for individual exploration and operations for NASA.

The US space agency retired its space shuttle program in 2011 and has relied on Russian vehicles since then to go to the ISS.

The US space agency has an agreement with Russia to fly crews on Soyuz through at least 2019, and a number of those crewmembers are already announced, the report stated.

NASA has partnered with two commercial team providers – Boeing and SpaceX – to deliver vehicles for crews online.

Even though SpaceX announced its first uncrewed test flight of the Dragon individual spacecraft at 2019, Boeing is expected to start its own uncrewed flight in the subsequent months.

In August, NASA disclosed the names of nine US astronauts who will fly on the first certification flights to Boeing’s Starliner along with SpaceX’s Dragon.

NASA said these post-certification flights will soon be fully operational and will be regular, long-duration rotation missions, exactly like the assignments facilitated by Soyuz today, the report noted.

Schierholz added that using Russian and US vehicles flying simultaneously will provide”redundancy in team transport” into the ISS.

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