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Q&A: Cost of transporting one American to space station: about $63 million

Traveling to space station costly

I read in the Times that Russia would charge us $50 million to carry one American to the space station. Did we charge for all those non-Americans we have carried to this craft? Wasn't the space station primarily constructed by the United States?

That $50 million has now become almost $63 million per flight, according to PolitiFact.com (www.politifact.com/florida/statements/2011/jul/13/marco-rubio/rubio-says-us-will-pay- russia-50-million-astronaut).

The United States has a contract with Russia to pay $752 million for six seats a year in 2014 and 2015. The costs cover training, preparation and landing. The United States has had a contract with the Russians to carry astronauts since 1993.

NASA has not charged any countries to fly its astronauts or citizens on shuttle flights, according to an agency spokesman.

The International Space Station, which is scheduled to be completed in 2012, is a joint project of the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the Russian Federal Space Agency (RSA), the Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency (JAXA), the Canadian Space Agency (CSA) and the 11 nations that make up the European Space Agency (ESA).

NASA will have spent $37 billion on the space station through 2012, it says, and does not have the contributions of the other partners. ESA has said the total cost of the space station will be about $100 billion.

Congressmen get boot, benefits

When someone serving in Congress is forced to resign, what benefits is he entitled to upon resignation?

Unless your theoretical member of Congress has been convicted of certain offenses committed during the period of service when the annuity was earned, he or she is entitled to whatever benefits accrued while serving in Congress.

Those excluding offenses are:

• Bribery of public officials and witnesses.

• Acting as an agent of a foreign principal while a federal public official.

• Conspiracy to commit an offense or to defraud the United States.

• Perjury and subornation of perjury.

Here's an example: Rep. David Wu, a Democrat from Oregon who was first elected in 1998, resigned this month after a report that he had initiated an "unwanted sexual encounter" with a teenager. The National Journal reported that Wu, 56, was eligible for an immediate annual pension of $23,871.

Representatives and senators elected after 1984 typically participate in the federal retirement program and pay 1.3 percent of their salaries into the program. They also pay into and collect Social Security, and can put money into the Thrift Savings Plan, in which the government matches contributions up to 5 percent of salary.

You can read more about the retirements benefits for members of Congress at www.senate.gov/reference/resources/pdf/RL30631.pdf.

Q&A: Cost of transporting one American to space station: about $63 million 08/28/11 [Last modified: Tuesday, November 1, 2011 5:29pm]
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