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    MOSCOW, APRIL 1, 2004. (RIA Novosti). -- The European Space Agency will mark 15 years of partnership with Russia in the field of manned space research by the holding of the international symposium Growing Together in Moscow on April 2.

    "Anatoli Perminov, head of the Russian Federal Space Agency, has confirmed participation in the forum", an official spokesman for the agency said on Thursday. ESA director general Jean-Jacque Dordain will open the jubilee symposium.

    Cooperation between Rosaviakosmos (now the Federal Space Agency) and the ESA began with information exchange, small research contracts and the staging of European experiments within the framework of the Russian space programme. Full-fledged interaction began with the work of European astronauts in the Russian Mir orbital station, from which Thomas Reiter of Germany made the first spacewalk in 1995, said the ESA Moscow office.

    Europe and Russia have closely combined their efforts in the building and service of the International Space Station. Alongside scientific experiments, staged aboard the station by European astronauts under several countries' programmes, ESA's share in the ISS project consists in the making and launch of eight basically new cargo spaceships, named Jules Verne or ATV. The first blast-off of a space truck is scheduled for late 2004-early 2005 by the European heavy carrier rocket Ariane-5.

    In one trip, the Jules Verne will bring to the ISS about seven tonnes of cargoes, including food for the crew, research equipment, water and fuel for the ISS engines. One-time-use modules of the space truck will be used as waste bins.

    The engines of the ATV, docked with the ISS, be will used to elevate its orbit. Now, the orbit is corrected by the power plants of the Russian Progress ships.

    European space trucks will be docked to the ISS from the Russian service module Zvezda, have Russian docking ports and fuel pumping systems.

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