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Russia postpones launch of expedition to ISS until Sept.18

RIA Novosti

31/08/2006 18:01 MOSCOW, August 31 (RIA Novosti) - Russia said Thursday it had postponed the launch of the next mission to the International Space Station from September 14 until September 18.

The Federal Space Agency said the 14th expedition to the world's sole orbital station had been delayed after an August 27 shuttle launch in the United States had itself been put back because of bad weather.

"The decision was made in connection with the postponement of the Atlantis Shuttle launch, which is now due September 6-8," press secretary Igor Panarin said.

On Wednesday, the president of Russia's Rocket and Space Corporation Energia said there was an agreement with NASA that the shuttle would be launched in the September 6-8 window at the latest. He said the 13th ISS crew, scheduled to return to the Earth September 29, would otherwise have to return at night, which could pose some difficulties.

A Soyuz TMA-9 is scheduled to carry into space the 14th ISS crew, consisting of Russia's Mikhail Tyurin and U.S. Michael Lopez-Alegria. Japanese space tourist Daisuke Enomoto failed a medical, and the Russian Federal Space Agency decided on August 22 to send a U.S. woman of Iranian descent into space.

Tehran-born Anousheh Ansari, who turns 40 next year, will become the first female space tourist, following two American men and one South African.

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