"Commander Sergei Volkov and Flight Engineer Oleg Kononenko of the 17th International Space Station crew landed on the steppes of Kazakhstan at 11:37 p.m. EDT Thursday after more than six months days in space. All three people aboard the Soyuz TMA-12 spacecraft were reported to be in good condition after their re-entry and landing. A Russian recovery team and NASA personnel reached the landing site by helicopter shortly after the Soyuz touched down. They helped the crew members into reclining chairs for medical tests and set up a medical tent nearby."
Russia: October 2008 Archives
"NASA/JSC intends to contract with Roscosmos for these services on a sole source basis for a period up to 4 years and 6 months, through June 30, 2016. NASA/JSC intends to issue a modification to add Firm-Fixed-Price Indefinite Delivery/Indefinite Quantity (IDIQ) provisions to order these services on an as-needed basis (until alternative providers reach full operational capability). These services are being procured through Roscosmos because the Soyuz is the only proven crew transportation and rescue vehicle (other than the Space Shuttle which is scheduled for retirement in September 2010) currently compatible and able to dock to the International Space Station and capable of providing the needed services. The Government does not intend to acquire a commercial item using FAR Part 12. See Note 26."
"It is obvious that this status of a reliable international partner should be constantly upheld," Putin told the special meeting in Krasnoyarsk region in Siberia. U.S. space agency NASA plans to mothball its entire Space Shuttle fleet by 2011. "Evidently ... between 2011 and 2016 the United States will not possess a new spaceship to replace the Space Shuttle," news agencies quoted Anatoly Perminov, the head of Russia's space agency Roskosmos, as telling Putin. "So Russian spacecraft will bear the brunt of transportation and maintenance works, as well as replacing (ISS) crews and launching European and Japanese cargo ships from time to time."
Editor's note: Gee, and when their space program was collapsing in the 1990s who propped it up, wrote big checks, etc.? Thanks a whole heap, tovarich.
"The ongoing global economic turmoil and increasingly strained ties between Moscow and Washington will not stand in the way of further space exploration, Russia's space agency chief said Saturday."
"I doubt that the ISS crew will be increased to six people from next year because the final decision has not been taken yet," Roscosmos head Anatoly Perminov said. "All countries participating in the ISS program have to decide it."
"Plans to increase the crew of the International Space Station from three to six astronauts in 2009 may be delayed, the head of the Russian space agency said Saturday."
U.S. to rely on Russia for manned spaceflight, NY Times/IHT
"The United States has had periods in which its astronauts could not reach space: between the end of the Apollo program and the beginning of shuttle flights in 1981, and after the loss of the shuttles Challenger in 1986 and Columbia in 2003. But the coming interval could become the longest of all if the rollout of NASA's new rockets is significantly delayed."
NASA's Exploration Systems Architecture Study -- Final Report, Nov. 2005, Executive Summary, section 1.1.1
"Dr. Michael Griffin was named the new NASA Administrator in April 2005. With concurrence from Congress, he immediately set out to restructure NASA's Exploration Program by making its priority to accelerate the development of the CEV to reduce or eliminate the planned gap in U.S. human access to space. He established a goal for the CEV to begin operation in 2011 and to be capable of ferrying crew and cargo to and from the ISS."