NASA Asks Congress for Extra $490M to Fly Astronauts to Space Station

Breaking News Emails

Get breaking news alerts and special reports. The news and stories that matter, delivered weekday mornings.
/ Source: NBC News
By Associated Press

NASA is asking Congress for another half billion dollars to pay Russia to fly astronauts to the International Space Station. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden on Wednesday sent a letter to Congress requesting $490 million to pay for six seats on Soyuz rockets for astronauts to fly through 2017. That comes to nearly $82 million a seat, up from $71 million a seat.

Bolden blamed Congress for needing the extra money for seats. "Unfortunately, for five years now, the Congress ... has not adequately funded the Commercial Crew Program to return human spaceflight launches to American soil this year, as planned," Bolden wrote.

Bolden said Congress didn't add enough to the commercial space program so that launches from U.S. soil had to be pushed back two years, requiring more Russian rides. NASA wanted the money to help private space companies Space X and Boeing pay for new rockets and capsules that would launch from America.

Related: Three Astronauts Reach International Space Station Aboard Soyuz Rocket

"It is my sincere hope that we all agree that the greatest nation on Earth should not be dependent on others to launch humans into space," Bolden wrote. "I urge Congress to provide the funds requested for our Commercial Crew Program this year, so we can prevent this situation in the future."