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Russia's space agency plans to resume ISS tourist flights in 2018

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NASA/Getty Images

The Russian state space agency, Roscosmos, has indicated that it plans to restart its space tourism program in 2018 to make up for the loss of its current contract with NASA. In a statement, Energiya space corporation — the agency's main subsidiary in manned orbital flights — said that Roscosmos would compensate for the fall of demand for manned Soyuz spaceships by "resuming short-term commercial expeditions to the Russian segment of the ISS."

Roscosmos carried eight private tourists to the space station between 2001 and 2009, but halted the ventures after the ISS expanded its crew from three to six, and it became clear NASA and other space agencies needed the extra seat for their own astronauts. Now more options are becoming available for getting people into space, the Russian agency intends to offer flights to the International Space Station to private citizens as NASA moves on from using Roscosmos' Soyuz craft.

NASA currently uses Roscosmos' Soyuz craft to carry astronauts into space

NASA currently uses the Russian agency's rockets to take American astronauts to the International Space Station after the closure of the space shuttle project in 2011, but the US space agency is expected to start using rockets manufactured by private companies to ferry astronauts to the ISS in 2018. Energiya said that NASA and the Russian agency may sign another agreement in 2018, but with SpaceX's Dragon and Boeing's CST-100 craft scheduled to be complete by that time, it may be the last such agreement signed.