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The world community should cooperate to send the first manned space flight to Mars, Russian ex-cosmonaut Nikolai Budarin said on Tuesday at an event in the Mexican capital celebrating the 50th anniversary of the first man in space.
Yury Gagarin made the first manned space flight on April 12, 1961, and orbited Earth 108 minutes before landing safely near the Russian town of Saratov.
In answering a question about Russia's future in space, Budarin said much attention is now centered on flying to Mars, adding that presently the Mars-500 program simulating a Mars mission is currently underway in Russia.
"I think that man's first flight to Mars will happen in the mid-term timeline," Budarin told RIA Novosti, adding: "I believe Russia will work closely with the Americans and Chinese [on a flight to Mars]."
The Mars-500 project was launched on June 30, 2010, with six volunteers who will spend 520 days "in space and on Mars."
Budarin touted the Russian government for putting more attention on space programs.
"We are now building our own Russian space launch center, Vostochny, in the Far East and the government has allotted 27 billion rubles ($963 million) on the first stage of construction, and we are planning to finish the project by 2020," Budarin said.
In regard to Gagarin's first flight into space, Budarin said he was only eight years old then and but remembered saying: "When I grow up I will definitely become an cosmonaut."
Budarin's first space flight was in 1995 at the age of 42 as an engineer on board the Mir Station. He flew two more missions in 1998 and 2003, spending a total of 444 days in space and making eight space walks.
MEXICO CITY, April 12 (RIA Novosti)
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