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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

New Space Station Gets Approved

WASHINGTON -- Russia, the United States and 13 other nations signed an agreement to cooperate in building the International Space Station and hailed the event as marking the end of space-race rivalry.

The station, focus of what has been billed as the most ambitious space program in history, will replace the world's only orbital laboratory, Russia's aging Mir station, which has been in service since 1986.

Meanwhile, a Russian Soyuz spacecraft carrying two Russian and one French cosmonaut was en route to Mir for a Saturday docking.

Officials from Canada, Japan and 11 countries in the European Space Agency joined the United States and Russia on Thursday to sign the pact, which establishes a framework for cooperation on the design, development, operation and use of the station.

The new accord, signed at the U.S. State Department, replaces a 1988 one and formalizes the inclusion of Russia, which in practice has already been centrally involved in space cooperation for several years. It also brings in Sweden and Switzerland.

Russia's ambassador to Washington, Yuly Vorontsov, who signed for Moscow, called the project the "first brick in the foundation of the first common home of humanity in outer space."