NASA is forced to pay the Russians nearly $71 million to send an American astronaut into space.
The Wire reports:
Early tomorrow morning, NASA astronaut Steve Swanson will hitch a ride to the International Space Station aboard a Russian Soyuz spacecraft, costing the federal agency a cool $70.7 million that will surely end up in the Kremlin's coffers. So you can understand get why they're not taking this whole Western sanctions thing so seriously.
Swanson will join cosmonauts Alexander Skvortsov and Oleg Oleg Artemyev on the journey, which will deliver to them to the ISS. They will join a team of three, NASA astronaut Rick Mastracchio, cosmonauts Mikhail Yurin and JAXA astronaut Koichi Wakata. NASA secured Swanson's space on the mission in April of last year, when NASA agreed to pay Russia a total of $424 million for six space tickets through 2017.
President Obama cancelled NASA’s $9 billion space program in 2010, which was set to build three new shuttles.
"To people who are working on these programs, this is like a death in the family," NASA chief Charles Bolden said at the time.
Bolden has expressed concern about relying on the Russians for space missions, and others are worried that current tensions with the country could leave American astronauts stranded in space.
SpaceX CEO Elon Musk said it is "embarrassing that the United States has to thumb rides from the Russians."
"We’re being forced to pay over $70 million dollars per seat to the Russians just to go to the Space Station and they have us over a barrel," he said. "Being at Putin’s mercy is not a good place to be."