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    ROSKOSMOS: RUSSIA AND NASA WILL DEVELOP PATTERN FOR PURCHASING RUSSIAN SOYUZ SPACESHIPS AND EQUIPMENT FOR ISS BY 2006

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    SPACE CONTROL CENTER (Korolev), October 16 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and NASA have agreed to develop a pattern for purchasing Russian Soyuz spaceships and other space equipment for the International Space Station (ISS) by 2006, Alexei Krasnov, head of Roskosmos' manned-mission programs, announced on Saturday.

    "The pattern of our cooperation with NASA will incorporate both barter-based and commercial purchase transactions. It is expected to cover the Russian side's ISS-related costs over the 2006-2009 period," he said, answering a RIA Novosti question.

    According to Krasnov, it will be possible to increase the number of ISS crew members to 6 astronauts only when the ISS will have the capacity to accommodate three docking Soyuz spaceships or one more than it can host now (at present, the international space station has two Soyuzes docked to it - an emergency one and the one that has delivered a new shift of astronauts onboard).

    "We expect to put the new pattern of our cooperation with NASA in effect at the end of 2007," Alexei Krasnov said.

    He reminded journalists that following the U.S. space shuttle Columbia disaster in February 2003, Russian Soyuz spaceships have been the only means of emergency evacuation from the ISS, with the Russian Progress spacecraft being the only space cargo vehicle capable of delivering fuel, equipment and other life-supporting loads necessary for the continued ISS mission.

    According to Krasnov, ISS crews are going to expand from the current two to six members by the end of 2007.

    "The whole logic of the ISS development over the past years has been leading to Russia's permanent three-member representation onboard the station so that we had a space resource commensurate with the one Russia enjoyed when its Mir station was in orbit," he said.

    "We are encouraging our American partners to support our plans to build up a regular ISS crew to six members by the end of 2007," he added.

    According to him, the pattern proposed by ROSKOSMOS for purchasing Russian Soyuz spaceships will let the ISS partners meet the challenges posed by shortage of emergency rescue spacecraft after suspension of all US space shuttle missions in 2003.

    Alexei Krasnov declined to quote the price of the planned Russian space equipment supplies, but pointed out that all appropriate estimates had been made in due course.

    U.S. space shuttles may resume their ISS missions in late spring - early summer of 2005, NASA Deputy Head Fred Gregory announced in the Korolev Space Control Center where he observed the Soyuz-ISS docking operation.

    "Originally, we had plans to resume space shuttle missions in March 2005. But, as you know, a powerful hurricane swept over the State of Florida where our space launch complex is situated, so we had to put the commencement date somewhat back again," the NASA Deputy Head said.

    Responding to a question about NASA's decision regarding Roskosmos' proposal to extend a regular ISS crew's stay onboard from 6 to 12 months, Fred Gregory said, "We like six-month missions and we are quite happy with them, but our experts continue studying the Roskosmos proposal and they will come out with their decision on this issue in the foreseeable future."

    According to Alexei Krasnov, NASA is not going to build its own rescue spacecraft for ISS emergency missions.

    "Originally, our partners planned to build their own rescue spacecraft for ISS emergency missions but in the end they decided to discontinue this program," head of Roskosmos manned-mission program said, answering a RIA Novosti question.

    He added that it was this decision that put Roskosmos in a situation when emergency evacuation of an ISS crew became fully dependent on Russia's Soyuz spacecraft.

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