Space Capsule Returns Cosmic Rodents to Earth after Month-Long Flight

MOSCOW, May 19 (RIA Novosti) – The returnable capsule of a biological research satellite has landed in the Russian Orenburg Region near the border with Kazakhstan, bringing mice, Mongolian gerbils, geckos and various microorganisms and plants back to Earth after their month-long flight, Mission Control said on Sunday.

“The descent vehicle separated from the equipment module of the Bion-M spacecraft at 6:32 a.m. Moscow time [02:32 GMT]. After successfully passing through the dense layers of the Earth’s atmosphere, the capsule landed at 07:12 Moscow time at the designated area, about 100 km [62 miles] northeast of Orenburg,” Mission Control said.

Specialists of the Progress Space Research and Production Space Center and the Institute of Medical and Biological Studies arrived at the site of the capsule landing and started to open the hatches to bring the animals out of the capsule, one of the specialists told RIA Novosti.

Russia launched the Bion-1M satellite, its first biological research satellite since 2007, on April 19 to conduct fundamental and applied research in space biology, physiology and biotechnology while in orbit and help pave the way for future interplanetary flights, according to the Federal Space Agency Roscosmos.

Bion-M1 carried eight Mongolian gerbils, 45 mice, 15 geckos, snails and containers with various microorganisms and plants.

During its 30-day flight, more than 70 physiological, morphological, genetic and molecular-biological experiments were conducted in support of long-duration interplanetary flights including Mars missions.

The research program included experiments with rodents to study the organism’s systemic reactions to microgravitation, as well as the impact of radiation and microgravitation on the organism.


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