Today Americans celebrate their 4th July. In 4 days the Atlantis shuttle makes its last flight. I thought you may wanna know this:
(...)Realizing the shift in space power, Russia's space agency this week convinced NASA to sign a fresh contract for taxi service to space: $55.8 million per astronaut to fly into space on Soyuz capsules in 2013 and 2014. NASA currently pays less than half as much -- $26.3 million per astronaut -- when it hitches a ride aboard Russian spacecraft.
"The contract modification covers crew return and rescue capabilities aboard the Soyuz spacecraft," Yembrick said.
Since no American firm currently has a vehicle capable of regular access to space, NASA does not really know when it will be master of its destiny again -- and that doesn't sit well with some members of Congress, who have made it illegal to end the Constellation program without congressional approval.
Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison, R-Texas, and others have proposed extending the shuttle's life beyond the last three flights scheduled this year. Hutchison wants the shuttle extended two years while NASA develops a new heavy-lift rocket replacement(...)
You guys knew that NASA currently pays $26.3 million, per astronaut, for hitch a ride with the Russians, in their Soyuz rocket??? And that NASA has signed this new contract to pay $55.8 million per astronaut, after the Shuttle's retirement???