Russian space agency to dictate terms

Russia is planning to raise the price it charges for taking foreign crew members aboard it's Soyuz rockets to the International Space Station – according to the head of the Russian Space agency Roskosmos.

The announcement comes as NASA prepares to shut down its space shuttle programme by the end of this year.

NASA and Roskosmos had signed an agreement worth over $US 300 million for six trips to the ISS in 2012 and 2013.

Space entrepreneur Jeffrey Manber says the U.S. space programme will soon depend on Russia because of the Bush administration's policies.

“It is really because the Bush administration said ‘we are going to end the space shuttle fleet, we are going to retire it’, said Manber.

“Today we’re in the situation that in order to keep the price down, as some have been arguing, we must bring the Chinese [into the ISS], who also have a manned programme. In this case there is going to be some competition,” said Manber.

He added that “it is going to be a very difficult time for America when the shuttle retires. We won’t be number one, we won’t be leaders in space and Russia will be sending the cargo ships, 90% of them, and completely in charge of the manned programme.”