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FUTURE OF THE INTERNATIONAL SPACE STATION TO BE DISCUSSED AT THE UPCOMING WASHINGTON MEETING OF THE GORE- CHERNOMYRDIN COMMISSION WASHINGTON, FEBRUARY 4. RIA NOVOSTI CORRESPONDENTS ALEXANDER SHISHLO AND ARKADY ORLOV -

The future of the international space station, including the schedule of its assembly in orbit, will be one of the questions discussed at the meeting of the Russian-American intergovernmental commission for scientific and technical cooperation (the Gore-Chernomyrdin commission), which is opening this Thursday. The RIA Novosti correspondents were told this by a source in the vanguard group of Russian experts who have already arrived in Washington to participate in the commission's work. Its session will be co-chaired by Viktor Chernomyrdin and US Vice-President Albert Gore.

The international space station is being built within the project with the participation of Russia, the USA, France, Germany, Hungary and Canada. According to the initial plan, its assembly must begin in September 1997 after launching into orbit of a Russian-made "core" of the station to which an American assembly with six docking units, carried into orbit by a "shuttle" in December, is to be added. One more service module of Russian make, is to be docked to the station in April 1998. Its assembly on the Earth may lag behind the schedule because of the insufficient financing, and American officials have already expressed concern in this connection. The Russian side holds the view that a possible delay will not tell on the carrying out of the project as a whole, and this opinion is shared by many experts of the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration. The issue is expected to be finally clarified at the forthcoming session of the Gore-Chernomyrdin commission.