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Germany

German Astronaut's ISS Flight Delayed

German astronaut Thomas Reiter's mission to the International Space Station (ISS) is likely to be postponed to September because of delays in the launch of the US space shuttle, Russia's space agency told ITAR-TASS news agency Tuesday. "We expect that he will fly to the ISS in September when the second shuttle is sent into orbit and will return in to earth in February 2006, also with the shuttle crew," Roskosmos representative Vyacheslav Davidenko was quoted as saying. Reiter was to become the first European citizen to fly a long-term mission to the ISS in July but shuttle launches were delayed by the US National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) last week to avoid a repeat of the deadly 2003 Columbia disaster. Reiter has been training for the mission in a facility near Moscow since November with Russian and American astronauts who are scheduled to fly an earlier shuttle mission to the ISS. NASA officials have been cautious since determining that a stray piece of insulating foam pierced Columbia's protective outer skin on lift-off Feb.1, 2003, leading to its disintegration and the death of all seven astronauts on board when the damaged shuttle re-entered the earth's atmosphere. The US space agency's three other shuttles have been grounded ever since the accident.

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