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First European Long-Term Space Station Mission This Year

Thomas Reiter
Montreal QC (AFP) Jan 26, 2005
A German astronaut's mission to become the first European to take up long-term residency on the International Space Station (ISS), could take place this year, a senior space official said Wednesday.

Jean-Jacques Dordain, director general of the European Space Agency, said discussions on Thomas Reiter's mission had made some progress, at two days of talks here with space programmers from the United States, Russia, Japan and Canada.

"I think we will probably see Thomas Reiter leave on a long-term mission in the second half of 2005," Dordain said after the talks on the future of the international space station.

But the exact date of Reiter's flight will depend on the return to service of US space shuttle missions. The shuttle serves as the main supplier and transport for astronauts and cosmonauts on long-term space station missions.

American shuttles were grounded after the Columbia space shuttle disaster two years ago which killed seven astronauts. Flights are expected to resume later this year, but not before May.

So far, only American and Russian fliers have carried out long missions on the ISS, lasting for six months.

Reiter, 46, a European Space Agency astronaut, previously travelled in space with the former Russian space station Mir, where he lived for 179 days, between September 3, 1995 and February 29, 1996.

An Italian astronaut is due to visit the ISS aboard a Russian rocket in April, but he is only expected to remain on board for 10 days.

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"Progress" Cargo Vehicle To Be Launched To ISS On February 28
Moscow, Russia (SPX) Jan 25, 2005
A "Progress" cargo vehicle was delivered to the Baikonur cosmodrome from the city of Korolyov, which is near Moscow. Itar-Tass was told at Baikonur on Monday that the 2005 first start of a cargo vehicle to the International Space Station was scheduled for February 28.

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