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Crew Trains For Station Launch

A group of Russian and U.S. astronauts went to the Baikonur cosmodrome in Kazakstan Monday to train on a key module of the international space station while it is prepared for launch, a news report said.

The Zvezda module, which will house the crew of the international space station, has been at the Baikonur cosmodrome since spring.

The international station's back-up crew - four Russian cosmonauts and NASA astronaut Kenneth Bowersox - will test Zvezda's on-board systems during three days of training at Baikonur, the Interfax news agency said.

They will be followed by the station's main crew, including NASA astronaut William Shepherd, who will command the first permanent space station crew.

The first two components of the international station were launched last November and December. The launch of Zvezda was originally planned for this fall, but was repeatedly delayed and is not expected to take place for some months.

The international space station project is already more than a year behind schedule because Russia's cash troubles have caused repeated delays in construction.

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