Russia to stop free space trips for U.S. astronauts -- RSA

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MOSCOW, October 1 (RIA Novosti) -- Russia has fulfilled its obligations on free space trips for NASA astronauts to the ISS. Financial conditions on the return trip for William McArthur, commander of the 12th expedition, which started on Saturday, will be discussed with NASA officials who are due to arrive in Moscow on October 6, Alexei Krasnov, head of the Russian Space Agency's Manned Space Programs who is currently at the Baikonur space center, said.

"We have fully met our obligations on free space trips for NASA astronauts to the ISS. Formally, we are not even obliged to take William McArthur back from the ISS in six months time aboard the Russian Soyuz craft so the conditions for his trip will be discussed with our NASA colleagues," he said.

While U.S. space shuttles are grounded, the only means of crew rotation are Russian Soyuz spacecraft, which are even used as rescue vehicles. Beginning with W. McArthur's return to earth, all trips to the ISS, as well as return trips for U.S. astronauts will be provided on a commercial basis.

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