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Russia, Europe to build new space shuttle


MOSCOW, June 14 (RIA Novosti) - Russia and Europe will become partners in developing the new Russian space shuttle Kliper, but the more than billion-dollar project will inevitably come up against immense organizational and technical difficulties, according to an article published in the daily Biznes Tuesday.

Chief of the Russian space agency Roskosmos Anatoly Perminov and President of the European Space Agency (ESA) Jean Jacques Dordain have agreed that the first flight of the new spaceship will likely come no later than 2011.

"Kliper will be used for the International Space Station (ISS) and in projects associated with the exploration of the Moon and Mars," Perminov said.

He said the project would make it possible for the two agencies to maintain long-term cooperation in piloted space flights.

But industry experts have expressed doubts.

"In the first place it would be necessary to decide which rocket will place Kliper in orbit," one source said.

Kliper weighs 14.5 tons, but the Soyuz carrier rocket can only launch spacecraft weighing less than 8.5 tons.

"For Europe, it is a purely political question, and there will be no economic pay-off," the source said.

Any country that wants to take part in the project has the opportunity to contribute funding.

"If even a remittance of a far smaller sum of �130 million under the Soyuz-Kourou project (the construction of launching facilities for Russian Soyuz carrier rockets at the Kourou spaceport in French Guiana) has become a problem, what can we say about a billion project?" the source said.

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