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Saturday, 12 August, 2000, 09:16 GMT 10:16 UK
Troops train for ISS emergency
Rocket AP
Another element heads for the ISS
US, Canadian and Russian troops are to hold joint exercises in the Arctic to prepare for a possible emergency landing by astronauts from the International Space Station (ISS).

The forces will train at Russian bases from 15 to 19 August, said the Pentagon in a statement.

They are preparing in case the ISS crew have to leave the space station in a hurry and land on water.

"The field training exercise...is designed to improve the capability to conduct search and rescue operations in Arctic regions," the statement said.

The aim of the exercises is to improve management of the crash site, medical procedures and the handling of injured crew members.

The US forces will include members of the Alaskan state National Guard, as well as Canadian and Russian air force units.

Ambitious project

The ISS is being built jointly by the United States, Russia, Canada, Europe and Japan.

Shepherd Nasa
American William Shepherd will lead the first crew in October
It has been described as one of the most ambitious engineering projects ever attempted.

The space station currently comprises three modules and a cargo vessel which docked last week.

Teams of seven astronauts will live and work in a space as big as the cabin of a Boeing 747 jumbo jet.

When completed, the ISS will loom seven stories high and spread over nearly half a hectare (an acre) of space.

But at least 35 more space missions will be needed before the station is complete, probably in 2005/6.

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