By RFE RL
(RFE/RL) — Russia’s contract with the United States to ferry astronauts to the International Space Station (ISS) is due to expire in April, Russia’s deputy prime minister for defense and space agency said on August 31.
Russia has been transporting U.S. astronauts to the orbiting station since the United States halted its space shuttle program seven years ago.
When a Russian Soyuz spacecraft returns to Earth in April, “our obligations under the contract with NASA, in respect to sending and returning American astronauts to and from the ISS, will end,” Deputy Prime Minister Yury Borisov was quoted as saying by the state-run TASS news agency.
The space station orbits at an altitude of about 400 kilometers and carries out scientific research.
The station has been mostly a collaboration between U.S. and Russian crews during its decade and a half of continuous operation.