Russia Poised To Launch 1st Bion Mission in 15 Years

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The Russian Space Agency, Roscosmos, will launch a satellite carrying biological experiments April 19 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan.

The Bion-M mission will launch aboard a Soyuz rocket and spend 30 days in orbit, carrying lab mice, geckos and other creatures, Vladimir Sychev, the mission’s research supervisor, said.

The mission is resuming the Russian biosatellite program after a 15-year hiatus. Researchers from NASA and several U.S. universities will have access to the experiments once they return to Earth. Experiments on mice aim to determine how life adapts to zero gravity, research applicable to long-duration human spaceflight.

The spacecraft will also have an outboard attachment of basalt rocks containing bacteria in a test of whether these cells will survive the heat of atmospheric re-entry. If they do, it will support the idea that living organisms could come to Earth on the back of a meteorite, Sychev said.