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NASA and Rosaviakosmos work out agreement for Soyuz launch
Posted: Fri, Apr 27, 2001, 8:32 PM ET (0032 GMT)
Soyuz booster prepared for Soyuz 2 launch (RSC Energia) NASA and its Russian counterpart, Rosaviakosmos, worked out an agreement Friday that clears the way for the launch early Saturday of a Soyuz spacecraft carrying space tourist Dennis Tito. Under the agreement NASA withdrew its request to Rosaviakosmos to delay the launch so that the shuttle Endeavour could remain at the station an extra day to help the station crew complete repairs to the station's computer systems. In exchange, Rosaviakosmos agreed to delay the docking, scheduled for Monday, if the shuttle should need to remain at the station. The agreement defuses tensions that built up between the space agencies after Russian officials said earlier Friday that they had no plans to delay the launch of the Soyuz despite NASA's request. Currently NASA plans to undock Endeavour from ISS on Sunday, one day after a long-delayed robotic arm maneuver where the new Canadarm2 on the station hands over a Spacelab pallet to the shuttle's robot arm. Earlier Friday the shuttle's robot arm removed the Raffaello cargo module from the station and stowed in the shuttle's cargo bay as planned. NASA officials are confident the shuttle and station crews can complete their work on the robot arms and station computers in time for a Sunday undocking. Launch of the Soyuz, whose flight has been dubbed "Soyuz 2" by NASA, is still scheduled for 3:37 am EDT (0737 GMT) from Baikonur. In addition to Tito and two Russian cosmonauts, the Soyuz is carrying a disk drive to replace one that failed in one of the station's command and control computers earlier this week.
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