The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) of the United States will resume the flights of its shuttles in the first four months of 2004, said NASA deputy associate administrator Michael Kostelnik.
The date of the first flight of the Atlantis space shuttle is expected to be named in 6 weeks, specified the high-ranking NASA spokesman.
Earlier, it was planned that the Atlantis space shuttle will fly to the International Space Station (ISS) in December 2003. This decision was revised because there are only two days in December when the shuttle can be launched in daytime.
A spokesman for the Russian Aviation and Space Agency (Rosaviacosmos) said that if the flights of the shuttles are resumed only next April, Russia will have to make and to launch to the ISS two manned spaceships Soyuz TMA and three Progress cargo spaceships - and two of them will have to be produced beyond the plan.
After the crash of the Columbia shuttle, which occurred on February 1, this year, it is Rosaviacosmos which has been ensuring the functioning of the International Space Station.
US President Joe Biden and Iraqi Prime Minister Mustafa Al Qadimi signed an agreement on July 26 to formally end the USA's military presence in the country by the end of the year