Russia’s Soyuz spacecraft offers significantly cheaper flights than the US’ private launch providers SpaceX and Boeing, claimed Agat, an economic and scientific research institute of Russian space agency Roscosmos. Currently, SpaceX, owned by Elon Musk, and Boeing Space are two major US companies in line to provide launch services. The comparison was made with the Orel spacecraft in mind, which is a project being developed by Roscosmos.
"Already today, the transport system on the basis of Russia’s Soyuz MS manned spaceship is more economically advantageous and the price for astronauts or space tourists depends on extra services and the market situation", Agat said in a report, as per TASS news agency.
Moreover, the organisation cited NASA's estimate which suggests that one launch in SpaceX's Dragon spacecraft costs around $210 million whereas Boeing's Starliner launch costs around $345 million. While both companies have won NASA contracts to transport cargo and crew to the International Space Station (ISS), SpaceX is the only company that has a license to launch astronauts. While Agat did not reveal the exact mission costs on a Russian spacecraft, it earlier claimed that missions to the Moon would be four times lower than that in an American spacecraft.
Boeing, on the other hand, has a long way to go as it recently conducted a successful uncrewed ISS mission and is aiming for a crewed launch soon. When licensed for crewed missions, Starliner's cost would be roughly $87 million for each astronaut as per the current estimates. However, Boeing will aim at reducing this launch cost to $50 million by increasing the number of Starliner seats to seven as opposed to the SpaceX Dragon capsule's four seats, which cost $53 million each.
Russia-US launch deal
The report comes ahead of the Crew-5 mission, wherein SpaceX will launch a new batch of four astronauts to the space station in September. This crew would also include Russian cosmonaut Anna Kikina, who is currently the only active female member in Roscosmos. She would board the US spacecraft under a cross-flight deal that was made by Roscosmos and NASA. Under this deal, NASA will send a Russian in a US spacecraft in return for launching one of its astronauts in a Soyuz capsule.
This deal also extends to the Crew-6 mission which includes Andrei Fedyaev, a Russian cosmonaut flying to the space station in 2023.
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