Russia Hikes Price of Rocket Rides for U.S. Astronauts to $63 Million

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NASA, already committed to paying Russia millions of dollars to hitch rides into space, had some expensive news to announce Monday: Russia plan to start charging even more.

With the United States phasing out the shuttle program, the new way for U.S. astronauts to get to the International Space Station will be to catch a ride with the Russians, and NASA's existing contract for that transport priced each rocket ride at just under $56 million.

Now, Russia is hiking the price for each rocket ride to nearly $63 million in 2014. The contract extension with the Russian Space Agency totals $753 million, which covers trips for a dozen astronauts from 2014 through 2016.

Why such a price hike? NASA officials chalk it up to inflation.

NASA chief Charles Bolden says it's critical for U.S. companies to take over this transportation job. The space shuttles used to do that job are being retired this summer.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.