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    MOSCOW, January 15, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - NASA does not plan to leave the ISS construction program.

    "Immediately after U.S. President George Bush's speech in the NASA headquarters," the official spokesman for the Rosaviacosmos, Konstantin Kreidenko, told RIA Novosti, "the director general of the Rosaviacosmos Agency, Yury Koptev, had a half an hour telephone conversation with NASA head, Sean O'Keefe, who said that NASA's leaving the ISS construction programme was out of the question." "The Rosaviacosmos Agency has the right to react only to official statements of ISS partners that are confirmed by documents," he underscored. According to the spokesman, "the official conversation between the heads of the space agencies did not confirm the intentions of the U.S. President, expressed the day before, to complete the construction of the International Space Station by 2010." As has been earlier reported, Mr. Bush said in his speech that it was time for America to take a further step in exploring space.

    The United States intends to complete the construction of the International Space Station (ISS) by 2010 and thus fulfil its obligations to the fifteen international partners, Mr. Bush pointed out.

    According to Mr. Bush, American space shuttles will be used to finish the ISS by 2010 and then will be removed from service.

    NASA's next task will be to create and test a new space vehicle, a manned research spaceship, said Mr. Bush.

    Its first tests must be made no later than 2008, and the first piloted flight must be carried out no later than 2014.

    The manned research spaceship will be able to bring astronauts and scientists to the ISS after the space shuttles are taken out of operation, underscored President Bush.

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