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Russia plans manned Mars mission, may ask Japan to join.

MOSCOW, April 11 Kyodo

Russian scientists plan to launch a manned expedition to planet Mars by 2020 and are calling for international cooperation, according to Itar-Tass News Agency.

Anatoliy Grigorev, head of the biomedical institute affiliated with the Russian Academy of Sciences, was quoted by Tass as saying Wednesday that Russian scientists are aiming to send a manned probe to Mars sometime between 2016 and 2020.

Grigorev said the Mars mission would be the next major space project after construction of the International Space Station (ISS) is completed and urged the countries taking part in the ISS project -- the United States, Europe and Japan -- to participate in the Russian Mars exploration plan.

According to Grigorev, Russia is expected to come up with an outline of the Mars expedition plan by 2005.

Grigorev said the Mars probe would be manned by a crew of four to five astronauts, who would spend close to two years in space. It takes nine months for a spacecraft to travel to Mars.

Interest among Russians to rebuild their country's high profile as a space superpower has heightened after the plunge of the Russian space station Mir last month.
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Publication:Japan Science Scan
Date:Apr 16, 2001
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