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    MOSCOW, April 2, 2004. (RIA Novosti) - In 2005 the European Space Agency (ESA) hopes to send two astronauts to the ISS. Jorg Festel-Buecht, director of the ESA Human Spaceflight Programmes, spoke about it at the international symposium that has met to mark the 15th anniversary of cooperation between Russia and Europe in the sphere of human spaceflights.

    We firmly intend to carry out two flights of European astronauts on the International Space Station next year," said Jorg Festel-Buecht, answering the question of RIA Novosti.

    According to him, one of these flights will be rather short, while the second one - may last longer. We are conducting negotiations about it with the Russian Federal Space Agency and is very much interested in a long flight of a European astronaut," he underscored.

    At the same time the director of the ESA Human Spaceflight Programmes specified that the third space tourist, American Gregory Olsen, whose commercial short-term flight on the ISS has been scheduled for April 2005, may become a rival to the European.

    He is an American, but not a NASA astronaut, therefore he may become a certain problem for us," he noted.

    For this reason, we positively rate the proposal of the Russian Federal Space Agency to NASA about prolonging the stay of the ISS expeditions to one year, he underscored. In this case a space tourist could be included in the crew of the Russian spaceship Soyuz.

    If the American astronaut can remain on the station for a year, this will solve the problem, said Jorg Festel-Buecht.

    The director of the ESA Human Spaceflight Programmes said that it will not be apparently easy for the Americans to take such a decision.

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