In Moscow NASA has signed a $719 million modification to its International Space Station (ISS) contract with Russia's Federal Space Agency (FSA) for crew and cargo services through 2011.

The firm-fixed price extension covers crew rotations for 15 crew members, six in 2009, six in 2010 and three in 2011, and the delivery and removal of 5,600kg (12,300lb) of cargo.

With the contract the US space agency is also purchasing a Russian Docking Cargo Module flight in 2010 for the delivery of 1,400kg of NASA cargo to the ISS. That cargo is the outfitting hardware for Russia's ISS Multipurpose Laboratory Module. NASA is obligated to deliver the Russian module's hardware under a 2006 addendum to the ISS Balance of Contributions Agreement between NASA and the FSA.

In addition, NASA is purchasing a flight opportunity to and from the space station that will meet another obligation to the ISS partners. The 2009 flight will allow for an astronaut from the partners to spend approximately six months aboard the space station.

NASA's intention to limit Space Shuttle flights to ISS assembly missions and the retirement of the entire shuttle fleet in 2010 means it has to find cargo and crew transportation alternatives. It may purchase services from the European Space Agency for its cargo delivering Automated Transfer Vehicle, expected to have its maiden flight next year.

The US space agency's Commercial Orbital Transportation Services programme may provide the bulk of cargo transportation needs from 2010 to the space station. California based Space Exploration Technologies and Oklahoma's Rocketplane-Kistler are competing for this contract with their launch systems, Falcon 9 and Kistler-1 respectively.