NASA has been relying on the Russians to get astronauts to the International Space Station since the shuttle program was retired in 2011, and it looks like it will be doing so for at least a few years longer. The space agency confirmed today that it's been forced to extend its contract for crew transportation services with Rocosmos until June of 2017, a move that comes at a cost of some $424 million. In announcing the news, NASA also reiterated that it is "committed to launching U.S. astronauts aboard domestic spacecraft as soon as possible," and says that it should be able to do so by 2017 provided it receives all of the funding outlined in the Obama administration's 2014 budget. NASA Administrator Charles Bolden further adds that he's "pleased with the progress our commercial crew providers are making," and remains confident that (again, funding-provided) they will be helping it carry astronauts into space "in just a few short years."
[Image credit: NASA/Bill Ingalls]