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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

ISS Crews Could Be Reduced to 2

Permanent crews aboard the international space station could be cut from three to two as the 16 nations behind the outpost battle to keep it in orbit without U.S. shuttles, the Russian Aviation and Space Agency said Wednesday.

While the shuttle is grounded, the station is depending on Russian craft -- the Progress supply ship and the Soyuz manned capsule -- to stay aloft. Giving up one crew member in the short term would allow the ISS to save water, food and fuel in orbit and to send up cargo aboard Soyuz, built for three crewmen.

"Cutting the crew to two men is just one of the options we are considering," a Rosaviakosmos spokesman said.

He said crews would in future consist of a U.S. astronaut and a Russian cosmonaut.

The ISS is currently staffed by three crew members who were due to return to Earth in March aboard the shuttle Atlantis. They may now have to wait for a Soyuz craft, due to arrive in April.

"We have done this in the past on board the Mir station, where work was similar to that on the ISS. There is nothing complicated about this," the spokesman said.