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July 5, 2000


KIEV (AP) - Ukrainian designers want to send the world's largest cargo aircraft, built to transport the Soviet space shuttle, back into flight, an official said Tuesday.


The Kiev-based Antonov aviation design bureau hopes the Mriya airplane, capable of carrying 250 metric tons of cargo, will be in demand around the world, said Andriy Savenko, a spokesman for the bureau.


The airplane was built in 1988 to carry the Buran space shuttle, which Moscow meant as a counterweight to the U.S. space shuttle program. The Soviets grounded the Buran for lack of funds after it made one unmanned flight.


The current project involves reconstruction of one of the two Mriya aircraft that were left in Ukraine after the Soviet collapse. The Antonov bureau plans to provide most of the estimated dlrs 16 million to 20 million needed to reconstruct and license the plane, with the Ukrainian Motor-Sych company supplying new engines, Savenko said.


Test flights and licensing of the reconstructed Mriya are planned for next year, he added.


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