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Russia, Europe Sign Deal for New Spacecraft

The Russian and European space agencies have announced a deal to build a manned spacecraft for near-earth orbits and trips to the moon.

Russian news agency reports quote a spokesman for the Russian agency Roskosmos as saying engineers want to test a 20-ton capsule by 2015. A first launch is planned for 2018 at a launch center in Siberia.

Under the pact, Russia will build the capsule, while European engineers build the service module and the engine block.

The new craft is to be phased in as the replacement for Russia's Soyuz spacecraft, which has come under increased scrutiny this year, after two consecutive rough landings on return from the International Space Station.

Some information for this report provided by AFP and AP.