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MIR



Russia Sets New Date for Space Launch

                     MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia will launch a new mission
to the
                     aging Mir space station on April 3, three days
later than originally
                     planned, a spokeswoman for Mission Control said
Friday.

                     The spokeswoman said the delay was for technical
reasons and
                     the original March 31 date was only a rough
guideline which
                     allowed for schedule changes for Soyuz spacecraft
launch.

 Earlier Friday, Itar-Tass news agency quoted a spokesman at a space
training center
 outside Moscow known as Star City as saying the launch had been
postponed due to
 technical reasons. He gave no further details.

 Mir was due to be scuttled this year but got a new lease of life when
foreign investors
 agreed to pay $20 million to fund further missions on the craft, which
is currently unmanned.

 Russia's Western space partners have been worried that plans to prolong
the life of Mir
 could divert Russia's scarce funds from a $60 billion project to build
an International Space
 Station.

 Acting President Vladimir Putin urged the government on Thursday to
find funds to preserve
 Mir without sacrificing Russia's role in the International Space
Station project.

 Russian-built living quarters for the International Space Station,
grouping the United States,
 the European Union and Japan, are due to take off from Russia's
cosmodrome in Baikonur,
 Kazakhstan later this year.


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