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Spain to send first astronaut to ISS

The first Spaniard and sixth European to visit the International Space Station (ISS) will leave on board Soyuz flight 7S, to be launched in Kazakhstan on 18 October. Pedro Duque, who has been a member of the European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut corps since 1992, will be acco...

The first Spaniard and sixth European to visit the International Space Station (ISS) will leave on board Soyuz flight 7S, to be launched in Kazakhstan on 18 October. Pedro Duque, who has been a member of the European Space Agency (ESA) astronaut corps since 1992, will be accompanied by two members of the ISS Expedition 8 crew: Russian Rosaviakosmos cosmonaut Alexander Kaleri, and NASA astronaut Michael Foale, who will remain on the station for approximately six months. Pedro Duque's mission will last only ten days, but during that time, he will carry out an extensive scientific programme involving experiments in the fields of life and physical sciences, Earth observation, education and technology. On 28 October, he will return to Earth with the crew currently on board the ISS. 'A trip into space is not something you can do every day,' said Mr Duque, 'so I am determined to use every moment to the fullest and perform the various experiments as proficiently as possible. I am proud to be representing almost 40 million Spanish citizens.' ESA is welcoming the mission as an opportunity to increase astronaut experience ahead of the launch of Europe's laboratory, Columbus, which will become part of the ISS. This mission was originally planned for April 2003, but ESA was asked by its partners in the ISS to forgo its flight opportunity in order to make a crew exchange at the station possible. The next visit to the ISS by a European is planned for April 2004, when Dutch astronaut André Kuipers will take part in a Soyuz mission.

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