Russia will build a new functional payload block (FGB-2) for the International Space Station by 2003, the Director General of the Khrunichev State Research and Production Space Center, Alexander Medvedev, said at a briefing in Moscow on Wednesday. He said the module is 70 percent ready. It was developed as a backup for the first functional payload module, which was successfully launched. To complete the construction, the Khrunichev center needs $50 million, Medvedev said. Khrunichev has already concluded an agreement with Boeing and is now negotiating with a new European space consortium, Astrium, for its participation in the project. The construction will also involve Russia's Energiya Rocket and Space Corporation and the Central Research Institute of Machine-Building, the main institute of the Russian Aerospace Agency, Medvedev said. Asked by RIA Novosti whether Russia's foreign partners in the ISS project will object to the docking of one more, unplanned Russian module to the station, Medvedev said that "the United States has partially reduced its program for building new segments on the ISS." Therefore, the new Russian project "has not caused a negative reaction" from the foreign participants in the ISS program, he said. "The new Russian module can be used to conduct experiments formerly planned to be carried out on U.S. segments, which will not be built, as it turned out," Medvedev pointed out.
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