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    IN 2004 RUSSIA WILL NOT AFFORD CONSTRUCTION OF ISS, SAYS YURI KOPTEV

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    MOSCOW, January 29 (RIA Novosti) - In 2004 Russia cannot afford construction of the International Space Station, head of Rosaviakosmos Yuri Koptev has announced.

    "The funds do not allow us to conduct large-scale construction works on the station, we will not have such an opportunity this year," he said at a briefing in Moscow.

    After the Columbia shuttle crash Russia had to carry all the burden of providing for the International Space Station, Koptev recalled. "This year we have to make two piloted launches and send four cargo ships to the station," he explained.

    Rosaviakosmos pins great hopes on the European cargo ship ATV, Koptev pointed out. "It is a serious ship able to replace 2.5 Russian Progress ships," he explained.

    On February 2-3, Rosaviakosmos representatives will meet their colleagues from the European Space Agency to discuss introduction of the European cargo ship, which is now being tested in France, in the space station's service structure, Koptev announced.

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