Russia's Rosaviakosmos space agency is asking International Space Station (ISS) partners, particularly NASA, for funding to help pay for the production of future Soyuz TMA ferry and emergency crew return vehicles (CRV).

The additional Soyuz vehicles are required to be attached to the ISS to act as a crew rescue vehicle. Two craft are needed to support a six-person crew, which is NASA's near-term objective, to help sustain the effectiveness of science work carried out at the station.

Rosaviakosmos chief Yuri Koptev says that the Russian space budget for 2003 is $262 million, 12% lower than in 2002 taking inflation into account. Each Soyuz TMA costs $9.7 million to build.

The Soyuz needs to be replaced at the ISS every six months to provide a fresh rescue vehicle.

The Russian Channel 1 television station has paid an initial $2 million to Rosaviakosmos in the first step in a television competition offering a flight to the ISS aboard a Soyuz TMA spacecraft in October next year.

Source: Flight International