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I've read a Russian article based on the recent report by the US Government Accountability Office regarding the NASA Commercial Crew Program. The article claims that it takes three years to order a seat on and to manufacture the Soyuz spacecraft:

Новые места на «Союзах» получать уже поздно — производство корабля и покупка мест занимают примерно три года

Translation:

It is too late to get seats on the "Soyuz" spacecraft -- manufacturing of the vessel and purchasing of the seats take approx. three years

Why does it take so long given the fact that the Soyuz vehicles are old, i. e. that's a proven technology with little, if any, innovation? I thought they were produced in a conveyor-belt-like manner...

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    $\begingroup$ You need very skilled and trained personell to build a reliable spacecraft. To integrate more personell would take time and may endanger quality. The capsule is small, very few technician may work in it simultaneously. Adding manpower to a late project makes it later. $\endgroup$ – Uwe Jul 16 '18 at 12:06
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    $\begingroup$ @GdD Nor is it true that little to none Innovation is taking place. AFAIK, there are quite a lot of modernisations taking place every so often. $\endgroup$ – DaGroove Jul 16 '18 at 12:30
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    $\begingroup$ @geoffc, even building 70 you don't use a conveyor belt assembly line. You only do that if you're building thousands. Assembling many at a time is relatively common. $\endgroup$ – GdD Jul 16 '18 at 13:52
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    $\begingroup$ To highlight the point @DaGroove made, the Soyuz craft has undergone at least five major revisions since its introduction: Soyuz -> Soyuz-T -> Soyuz-TM -> Soyuz-TMA -> Soyuz-TMA-M -> Soyuz-MS (current version) $\endgroup$ – Tristan Jul 16 '18 at 15:28
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    $\begingroup$ This is typical of the aerospace industry because of the cyclical/bursty nature of orders, and how much capital investment it takes to increase capacity. Boeing is sitting on a 5 year backlog on the 737, which is built in a assembly line manner, 47 per month. $\endgroup$ – user71659 Jul 16 '18 at 22:59

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