"NASA intends to purchase one or two additional Soyuz seats to ensure continuous US presence aboard the International Space Station," NASA Johnson Space Centre Public Affairs Officer Dan Huot said on Friday. "Negotiations are ongoing."
The spokesman said that the negotiated deal meets recommendations of US advisory committees, including the Government Accountability Office, and aims to provide additional back-up capability in case US crew flights are delayed.
Huot’s comments followed Roscosmos Director Dmitri Rogozin’s comments on Thursday that NASA was seeking to purchase an unnamed number of seats on upcoming manned Russian flights to the ISS.
The United States currently does not have any human-rated space booster of its own operational. NASA’s last purchased seat on a Soyuz is the one to be used by astronaut Chris Cassidy in April 2020.
According to Sputnik's sources, the spring launch is scheduled for April 9, while the fall launch will take place on 14 October.