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An enlargement of the crew of the ISS from two to six members is planned for 2009
An enlargement of the crew of the International Space Station from two to six members is planned for 2009, a spokesman for the Russian Space Agency (Roskosmos) has said. "True, it depends on how our American colleagues met their obligations and the emergence of their systems and modules in orbit", added Alexei Krasnov, in charge of the manned program board. He mentioned launch of the Node 3 module and its incorporation in the ISS cluster. "This module is intended for installing life-support systems in the American segment to be able to increase the crew", he explained. The International Space Station is a joint project of the space agencies of the United States, Russia, Europe, Canada and Japan. Back in 1998 the American National Aeronautics and Space Administration and the Russian Space Agency concluded the agreement on cooperation in developing elements of the manned station assembled in the near-Earth orbit by multiple-use spaceships. The first ISS element, the Russian Zarya module, was orbited in November 1998, signaling start for assembling the biggest-ever space structure. Upon its completion, the mammoth doing will weight 470 tonnes and be 109 meters long, 88.4 meters wide. Its total cost is expected to be 40 billion dollars. Krasnov also said that the ISS crews will, so far, rotate with the use of the Russian Soyuz ships while the launch schedules of American shuttles are being moved. Americans would like to take to the ISS one American astronaut by each Soyuz but no official agreement has yet been made, he said. In case the American shuttle service is resumed in the middle of 2005, the ISS will get astronaut Thomas Reiter of the European Space Agency, Krasnov said. "Agreement between the Roskosmos, NASA and ESA on Thomas Reiter long-duration mission has been reached. He will start off in the second shuttle", he said. Preparations for the Reiter mission are "in full swing", Krasnov said. Meanwhile, the mission of the European astronaut wholly depends on the resumption of the American shuttle service, he said. "If it is not resumed, we'll have to limit the ISS crew to only two and the timeframe of the European astronaut's mission will be put off", Krasnov noted. He also said that the European Space Agency has moved launch of the first European space truck Jules Verne from late 2005 to 2006. "There's nothing to fear. We've foreseen that with our European colleagues", Krasnov said
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