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NASA Will Pay Russia for Astronauts' Flights to Space Station

The U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration will pay Russia to ferry U.S. astronauts to the International Space Station aboard a Soyuz spacecraft.

A long-term agreement is still being discussed. But for now, NASA will pay Russia $21.8 million to fly newly named crew member Jeffrey Williams to the space station.

The same flight will deliver cosmonaut Pavel Vinogradov to the station and return to Earth cosmonaut Valery Tokarev and astronaut William McArthur, who has been in orbit since October.

With its shuttle fleet temporarily grounded and no other spacecraft available, NASA has no choice but to pay Russia for space ferry service.

Wealthy businessmen have paid for Soyuz flights to the space station on three occasions.