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The cost of a seat on Soyuz increases

Posted by: Andy Hill - Wed May 13, 2009 1:27 pm
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The cost of a seat on Soyuz increases 
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Post The cost of a seat on Soyuz increases   Posted on: Wed May 13, 2009 1:27 pm
Russia is now charging the US $51m for a ticket to the ISS, this is going to start hurting the NASA's purse strings and make the 5 year gap in capability very hard to defend. Especially if it stretches out even further as seems likely going on whats happening with Ares.

I see the charge only going up given the increasing strength of the Rouble and the weak Dollar. I think the Russians could be charging anything up to $100m a seat if the US still havent got their own independant access sorted out by the time the next agreement comes round. I'm assuming that the Russians will be charging ESA a similar amount which makes developing their own craft important, if they still wish to send anyone to the ISS.

The only way I can see out of this spiralling cost is COTS, lets hope Orbital and SpaceX can be successful with their crew transports. NASA really needs to fund other COTS programs to avoid the huge ticket prices that are being charged and those likely to be charged by Russia.


http://www.mosnews.com/world/2009/05/13/spaceprice/

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Post    Posted on: Sat May 16, 2009 8:21 pm
I know i haven't been here for a while, but why is everyone still bashing the Russians? Am i that young (and naive)?

Let's face it, 51 million dollars, hell even 100 million dollars, is cheap compared to anything NASA has launched so far bar none. The Russians have the most reliable space systems ever. If Mir wasn't crashed down, it still would be functioning. SpaceX has gone the Russian way if you haven't noticed. Use what you know that works. Don't try to reinvent the wheel to space. You may invent something that's an engineering wonder (STS), but it's rarely practical let alone cost effective.

In short, the Russians are the good guys in space. Look at the numbers. Unless the Chinese open up their spacegame, Russians will have the lead for some time to come. And from a purely engineering side, that's a very good thing.

Btw, if you have forgotten, the Russians were the first to 'embrace' capitalism in space, albeit because of the collapse of the Soviet union.


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Post    Posted on: Sat May 16, 2009 8:42 pm
I'm not bashing the Russians at all, I'm just stating how things are. Having worked with a number of Russians in Russia on a space project over a couple of years I can tell you nearly everything revolves around money and this is an example of them extracting as much cash as they can from a situation.

Russia is probably closer to a capatalist society now than the US is, at least where cash is concerned anyway. I'll give you an example: a few years ago when the Rouble wasn't doing so well most of the population had US dollars stashed away to act as proof against inflation, would the average US person want to do a similar thing? You could change Dollars on a street corner for much more than was being offered by the banks out there (if you were brave enough).

As for them being "the good guys" well they are like every other government involved in space with their own agenda and it just happens that being cooperative suits them. Be under no illusion their space agency course is plotted to beneifit Russia (as is every other countries actions in space). All this makes the Russians no better or worse than anyone else when it comes to space.

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Post    Posted on: Sun May 17, 2009 8:56 am
Off course they extract everything they can from it. That's a free market principle isn't?

About the inflation, the average US person doesn't have much choice considering money. I doubt shops will accept euros, pounds or the Chinese currency. Besides, they would still need to change their dollars at a bank.

Considering your last line, i agree totally, but it seems to me from your first point that when NASA/the US does that constantly, it's okay, and when the Russians do it it's suddenly not okay.

NASA is just a little bit more then an economic factor in the US economy. It's their economy first and then they do space business. Yes, it's their money (actually, it's not) and they can do whatever they want with it, but their actions don't speak well for future spacetravel. If i would have the money, i would go to the Russians to built me a space station or buy a soyuz.


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Post    Posted on: Sun May 17, 2009 7:15 pm
Stefan Sigwarth wrote:
Off course they extract everything they can from it. That's a free market principle isn't?


Like I said they are probably closer to a capitalist society than the US and there is nothing wrong with that. The only point is it is driving the cost of space travel up and not down. So making space less accessable to everyone.

Stefan Sigwarth wrote:
About the inflation, the average US person doesn't have much choice considering money. I doubt shops will accept euros, pounds or the Chinese currency. Besides, they would still need to change their dollars at a bank.


Believe me Russians have much less access to banks and financial institutions for money changing than the average person in the US. Russian shops only accept Roubles (or they did the last time I was there) but that didn't stop people stock pilling dollars.

Stefan Sigwarth wrote:
Considering your last line, i agree totally, but it seems to me from your first point that when NASA/the US does that constantly, it's okay, and when the Russians do it it's suddenly not okay.


I dont see where I've said that anywhere and if that is what you think I've said then you are wrong. Its not OK for anyone to do that but that is what is happening and the price will only go up unless COTS succeeds.

Stefan Sigwarth wrote:
NASA is just a little bit more then an economic factor in the US economy. It's their economy first and then they do space business. Yes, it's their money (actually, it's not) and they can do whatever they want with it, but their actions don't speak well for future spacetravel. If i would have the money, i would go to the Russians to built me a space station or buy a soyuz.


The Russians are no different in this, do you think that they would put space travel before their economy?

I'm not sure that spending money with the Russians would be any better. I think that you would get your space station or Soyuz but find a hundred costs that you had not bargained for. Of course spending it with NASA would probably result in getting nothing for your money. I would say the best bet was a newspace company like SpaceX or maybe Spacedev but there are a lot of people wondering around newspace touting powerpoints and not much else.

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Post    Posted on: Sun Jun 14, 2009 5:56 am
Andy Hill wrote:
Stefan Sigwarth wrote:
Off course they extract everything they can from it. That's a free market principle isn't?


Like I said they are probably closer to a capitalist society than the US and there is nothing wrong with that. The only point is it is driving the cost of space travel up and not down. So making space less accessable to everyone.


By chargin more, they have more to reinvest. They also make it easier to justify investment in start-ups.

This actually makes it easier for competitors to raise capital which should eventually lower the price.

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Post    Posted on: Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:12 am
idiom wrote:
By chargin more, they have more to reinvest. They also make it easier to justify investment in start-ups.

This actually makes it easier for competitors to raise capital which should eventually lower the price.


From what I've seen out there what normally happens is people just take the extra money for themselves and dont reinvest it, probably something to do with the average Russian not being able to have a lot of money saved in the past. This is bourne out somewhat by the fact that if they were reinvesting the money we should have seen a replacement for Soyuz by now, or at least some progress on one but as far as I can tell they are no closer than they were 5 years ago. This is despite having something like $200M in extra funding from paying tourists.

For instance what ever happened to Klipper, as soon as no other country was going to help pay for it it dissappeared off the radar screen? The Russians have an income stream if they wish to exploit it but for various reasons they have chosen not to.

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Post    Posted on: Sun Jun 14, 2009 8:29 am
Its probably keeping their space program going.

But if people were able to take large profits then people rush to the industry, assuming the large profits are free market and not government mandated.

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Post    Posted on: Sun Jun 14, 2009 11:31 am
I'm not sure there is anything like a commercial spaceflight industry in Russia, everything is state owned and run by the government. This means there is no competition within Russia and so nowhere for people to invest in and I doubt whether the Russian government would allow a private rocket company to exist within its borders.

As for space tourists paying for Russia's space program, I think that it helped in the past but with Russia's improved economic fortunes it will probably become less important and probably superfluous. That doesn't mean to say I see the Russians ploughing lots of cash into human spaceflight themselves, without much international competition I cant see much incentive for them. If the US were to get its act together and actually build a cheap shuttle replacement that flew on a regular basis then things might change but until that happens they will continue flying Soyuz.

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