Thanks to a 2011 move by the Obama Administration to shut down and privatize NASA’s historic and admired shuttle program, the U.S. space agency will now be paying $424 million to hitch a ride to space with Russia. That’s $70.6 million per seat.
NASA announced its latest contract with the Russian Federal Space Agency saying the $424 million will be used to fly American astronauts to and from the International Space Station aboard Russian Soyuz aircraft, as well as training, through 2017.
Though several U.S. spaceflight companies are working on programs to launch Americans from U.S. soil, Russia is the only country with means of getting people to and from the space station right now. And according to reports, its ticket prices have soared with each new contract.
NASA has been dependent on the Soyuz since the retirement of its space shuttle fleet in July 2011, which left more than 2,500 dedicated IAM members out of work.
“U.S. astronauts having to rely on Russian spacecraft to fly to space is absurd,” said IAM District Lodge 166 Directing Business Representative Johnny Walker. “For the world leader in space exploration to pay another country $70.6 million per seat for a ride to space is even more absurd. Thousands of hardworking Americans have worked to build America’s space program since John F. Kennedy first envisioned sending man to the moon. At the very least, the U.S. owes it to those workers to make sure those jobs stay here at home.”