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    Russian, European space agencies to develop manned spaceship - 1

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    The Russian and European space agencies will develop a manned transport spaceship for flights to the International Space Station, the Moon and Mars, the head of the Russian agency said Tuesday.

    (Recasts para 2, adds details, background in paras 3-8)

    ZHUKOVSKY (Moscow Region), August 21 (RIA Novosti) - The Russian and European space agencies will develop a manned transport spaceship for flights to the International Space Station, the Moon and Mars, the head of the Russian agency said Tuesday.

    "We agreed today with Jean-Jacques Dordain, the head of the European Space Agency, to form a working group to deal with developing a piloted transport system to fly to the International Space Station, the Moon and Mars," Anatoly Perminov said after talks with Dordain on the sidelines of the MAKS-2007 air show in Zhukovsky, near Moscow.

    "In September, representatives of the Russian and European space industry will start their work," he said, adding that a work scheme would be developed by the end of the year.

    The head of the European agency told journalists that the first launch of the Russian booster rocket Soyuz ST from the Kourou space center in French Guiana had been scheduled for March or April of next year.

    "It will be possible to implement this launch as soon as March-April 2008, and this is this most important stage in our cooperation with Russia," he told journalists.

    At the Paris Air Show in June, Russia's Federal Space Agency and French satellite launch firm Arianespace signed a contract for the first four launches of European satellites from Kourou. The satellites are to be put into orbit from the equatorial space center by a Soyuz ST rocket.

    Kourou is intended mainly for the launch of geostationary satellites. Its proximity to the equator will enable the Soyuz ST to orbit heavier satellites than those launched from Baikonur in Kazakhstan, or Plesetsk in northern Russia.

    Dordain also said the European Mars study apparatus Exo-Mars could be launched with the help of Russia's Proton booster. Media had earlier reported it would be launched in 2011 with the help of a Soyuz booster.

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