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. Last Updated: 07/27/2016

Russia-U.S. Crew Ready For Mission

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STAR CITY, Moscow Region — Two Russian cosmonauts and one American, who will be the first crew to man the $60 billion International Space Station this month, said they were ready for their mission after four years of training.

"I am really glad we have got to the day where the training is behind us.It has been a long road," William Shepherd, who will command the space station, told a news conference Monday.

"I am really anxious to go to work in space with these guys because I think the team work we have on the ground is only going to get better in the 17 weeks of our flight," he said.

Speaking in Russia’s leading space training center in a town outside Moscow, Shepherd said he hoped such international cooperation would become a matter of course.

Shepherd, a U.S. Navy captain, is to blast off with Russians Yury Gidzenko and Sergei Krikalyov, on Oct. 30 to the ISS. They plan to spend up to 117 days on board.

Gidzenko said their job would be to bring the space station to life by making the various components already shipped into space work. He said they would also do scientific experiments.

"We will do everything expected of us to get the station ready for the next crew. … It [the mission] is undoubtedly a new step in space exploration," he added.

The crew have had to deal with some frustrations on the way, including the fact that the launch of the station’s living quarters by Russia was more than two years late.

As well as Russia, the ISS is being built jointly by the United States, Europe and Japan.

It is a far more ambitious project than Russia’s Mir space station, now 14 years old, the future of which is under debate.

When complete, expected in 2005, the ISS will be seven stories high and be one of the brightest objects in the night sky. At least 35 more space missions will be needed to finish off the station.

The crew are to travel to the station on a Russian Soyuz rocket and return on a U.S. space shuttle. Most of the missions will travel to the station by shuttle.

They will have a living space no bigger than the cabin of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet.