In view of the recent tragedy of the American shuttle Columbia Russian space agency Rosaviakosmos is planning to step up production of its Soyuz spaceships. However the USA has not yet asked Russia to actually increase its contribution to the construction of the international space station. According to the Russian television channel RTR this was announced today by Deputy Head of Rosaviakosmos Georgy Polischuk, who is accompanying Russian Security Council Secretary Vladimir Rushailo on a working visit to the Urals.
Faster production of the Soyuz spaceships, which are used for transporting relief crew and short-term crew to the international space station, is an issue that will be discussed today at a meeting between Mr Rushailo with the management of the Avtomatika scientific-industrial complex in Yekaterinburg. 'The optimum production cycle is 1.5-2 years,' said Mr Polischuk. 'However we are currently trying to reduce that time period. It is possible that Russia will now be given more responsibility for the creation of the international space station,' he added.
In Mr Polischuk's opinion efforts should now be made by the space community 'to maintain and support the station. We are only capable of doing that at a minimal level,' he said 'but it will be difficult for the international space station without shuttles.' Nevertheless, Mr Polischuk is certain that Russia and the USA will be able to find the best way out of the current situation.
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