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Bumming a ride on Russian rockets will soon be a few million dollars more expensive. Inflation y'know.

Russia will charge US astronauts $51m for a round trip to the International Space Station beginning in 2012, a Russian space official said on Wednesday.

NASA said earlier it plans to reserve up to 24 seats aboard the Russian Soyuz spacecraft after the US agency's Space Shuttle program is retired in September 2010. NASA's new Ares rocket program isn't expected to carry its first human passengers to the ISS until 2015.

"We have reached an agreement with NASA to increase the price for a single seat on Soyuz space craft for US astronauts traveling to the ISS to $51 million, with adjustments for inflation," Alexei Krasnov, director of manned flight programs at Roscosmos told the RIA Novosti news agency.

In April 2007, NASA signed a $719m contract with Roscosmos to deliver 15 astronauts to the ISS as well as 5.6 tons of cargo through 2011. That comes to about $48m per round trip, not including the freight.

Reuters reports Russia also plans to resume selling Soyuz seats to space tourists. Earlier this year, Roscosmos chief Anatoly Perminov said US software designer Charles Simonyi would be on the agency's last commercial flight due to plans to double the ISS's resident crew from three to six.

Roscosmos said Kazakhstan has canceled its plans to send a trained cosmonaut into space this September, leaving one seat empty – and Google's Sergey Brin hopeful. ®

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