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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

City Eyes Space Shuttle Deal

The city of Moscow is looking to buy a 34 percent stake in a local firm working to build a smaller, cheaper space shuttle, Moscow Mayor Yury Luzhkov said.

The city wants to buy into the impoverished Molniya scientific-industrial enterprise to be able to help fund the factory's Max shuttle program, Luzhkov said during a visit to the enterprise Saturday.

Luzhkov declined to give details on how much the city might invest in the enterprise.

The 34 percent stake is in the hands of the Federal Property Fund, which has no plans to sell the shares to anyone, officials said Monday.

Neither Luzhkov nor Molniya officials would provide any details on the cost of the deal to the city budget.

Developed from the mothballed Soviet shuttle program, Buran, the new mini-shuttle is designed to deliver telecommunications satellites into orbit from an airborne launch pad based on the Antonov An-124 cargo plane, also known as the Ruslan.

The new Max shuttle program consists of a Molniya shuttle one-third the size of the Buran shuttle with a payload of eight to nine tons that would be launched from the Mriya flying station - a modified Ruslan capable of flying 800 kilometers per hour.

A Ruslan plane killed 70 people last December when it crashed into the suburbs of the Siberian city of Irkutsk following engine failure.

Molniya was founded in 1976 to work on the Energiya-Buran project to build manned, multipurpose spacecraft.

But the only Buran ever built made just one unmanned space flight in 1988 before the project was dumped for lack of funds.