NASA has been relying on Russian spacecraft to transport astronauts to the International Space Station since the U.S. space shuttle fleet was retired and is reportedly making plans to continue doing so in case its plans for commercial cargo flights are further delayed, National Journal reports.
NASA head Charles Bolden recently told the House Science Committee that the agency is planning to line up additional Russian spacecraft since budget constraints have delayed the commercial vehicle development, the National Journal reports.
Bolden said the space agency anticipates the need to purchase further transportation services from the Russian crew into 2017, the report said.
The commercial space taxis were slated to be ready in 2016. Bolden said the agency hopes they will be ready no later than 2017, according to the report.
NASA officials have indicated the move to contract Russian help into the coming years is a common-sense alternative in lieu of budget restraints the agency faces with its project.
The space agency’s commercial-crew initiatives saw $400 million this year, which was a cut from previous years and likely to occur again in coming years, the report said.
Commercial flights to the International Space Station are expected to begin later this year, although the station could face issues in receiving supplies in the future budget environment, according to the report.
NASA is expected to award further funding for the commercial vehicle initiative, including to Boeing Co, while construction contracts should come in two years time, the report indicated.