In an article posted on Spaceflight Now Gilles Leclerc, Director General of Space Technologies at the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) confirms that the International Space Station (ISS) partners have contacted Russia about purchasing an additional Soyuz spacecraft, potentially one new flight per year between 2013 and 2016. Currently an additional seat on a Soyuz costs $56 million based on the last contract signed by the U.S.
“There’s only been a couple of calls to Roscosmos,” Leclerc said in a June 25 interview. “The Canadian Space Agency has discussed with Roscosmos the possibility of producing an additional Soyuz spacecraft that would serve the needs of the ISS partners.”
It should be noted that there is no room in the current CSA budget for adding any additional seats on a Soyuz for Canada, something Leclerc emphasized.
“I don’t think we have the budget in the long term for this activity,” Leclerc said. “But this is the type of thing we have to consider to best use the capabilities of the space station going forward through the next decade.”
In fact the CSA’s own planned spending figures for 2012-2013 indicate ongoing budget cuts back down to a budget of $312 million. Just one Soyuz flight at a cost of $56 million would consume 1/6 of that years budget. However if the CSA did purchase an additional seat it would most likely be spread over several years budget.
Currently under an agreement signed with NASA, the CSA is entitled to fly at least one more astronaut to the ISS with the U.S. program until 2016. The U.S. has made arrangements for this with Russia so that a Canadian, likely veteran Chris Hadfield, will fly on a Soyuz in November of 2012 and become the first Canadian to command the ISS as Expedition 35 Commander, something yet to be confirmed by the CSA, but much speculated.