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Russia to fly Brazilian astronaut
Posted: Tue, Oct 18, 2005, 11:44 PM ET (0344 GMT)
ISS illustration (NASA) The Russian government has agreed to fly Brazil's first astronaut to the International Space Station on a mission next year, the leaders of the two countries announced Tuesday. Russian president Vladimir Putin and his Brazilian counterpart, Luiz Inacio Lula Da Silva, signed an agreement in Moscow that will allow Brazilian astronaut Marcos Pontes to fly to the ISS on the next Soyuz taxi flight, scheduled for late March 2006. BRazil will pay Russia an estimated $20 million for the flight, which will mark the first time a Brazilian has flown in space. Pontes has spent several years in the US training at the Johnson Space Center for a potential future shuttle flight, part of an agreement between the US and Brazil regarding the ISS, but Brazil later concluded it could not afford to build a component for the ISS that was part of the deal. Pontes arrived in Russia last week to begin training for the mission. Russia also agreed to assist Brazil with the development its own small launch vehicle, the VLS-1, which has failed in two launch attempts and exploded on the pad during preparations for its third launch attempt in 2003.
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