Russian Premier on Problems of International Space Station

Russia must take immediate decisions to finance additional launches of space ships to the International Space Station due to the suspension of American shuttle flights, Russian Prime Minister Mikhail Kasyanov said at a government meeting on Thursday.

The decisions cannot be postponed, for "the situation is developing contrary to our expectations," he said.

Suspension of the American shuttle flights lays additional responsibility on all project participants, primarily on Russia as the leading project participant, the Russian premier pointed out.

He believes it is necessary to analyse the situation and forecast its possible development in order to realise successfully the International Space Station project. It is important that along with direct budget financing Russia also attracts commercial money, he stated.

"No matter what agreements with our international partners we might reach, Russia will bear most of the responsibility. It will have to finance additional flights to the Station, which requires additional financing," the Premier stated.

Space exploration in Russia and the Soviet Union has always been a priority, the government's major focus and concern, he recalled. Today Russia is co-operating with about 40 countries in the space area including piloted cosmonautics, commercial launches with the use of Russian booster rockets as well as Russia's leading participation in the creation and usage of the International Space Station, the Russian prime minister pointed out.

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