CAPE CANAVERAL, Fla. (AP) — NASA is blaming Congress for the need to pay $424 million more to Russia to get U.S. astronauts into space.

NASA announced its latest contract with the Russian Space Agency on Tuesday. The $424 million represents flights to and from the International Space Station aboard Russian Soyuz spacecraft, as well as training, for six astronauts in 2016 and 2017.

That’s $70.6 million per seat — well above the previous price tag of about $63 million.

Several U.S. companies are working on rockets and spacecraft to launch Americans from U.S. soil. But that’s still a few years away.

NASA Administrator Charles Bolden says if Congress had approved the space agency’s request for more funding for its commercial space effort, this contract would have been unnecessary.

(© Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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