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Key payloads on the Bion-M No. 1 satellite.
Previous chapter: Bion-M satellites series
The first Bion-M mission was set to last 30 days, and like its predecessors, the project was led by Institute of Medical and Biological Problems of Spaceflight, IMBP, in Moscow with international participation. The official scientific goals of 79 experiments installed inside the Bion-M capsule and on the exterior of the spacecraft included four areas:
The spacecraft (which received a manufacturing number L15000-01) was expected to carry 24 scientific payloads with a total mass of more than 500 kilograms, including a number of live species:
The main experiment of the mission (MLZh-01) included 45 genetically identical male species of mice with implanted sensors to monitor muscle reaction, cardiovascular and nervous system as well as genetic changes in space. During the flight animals would be housed in three sections of the unit (with five cages each) and each cage containing three animals.
A feeding mechanism was to provide a paste-like food made of cereal mixed with vitamins, minerals and water six times a day. Blood pressure would be monitored continuously for five mice.
Additional three MLZh-01 containers were to carry groups of five geckos each, who were also chosen for Bion-M and previous Foton-M missions because of their resilience and low maintenance. Their ability to attach themselves to practically any surface in upside down position makes them especially interesting subject of experiments without gravity.
The MLZh experiment would rely on the systems of the Bion-M satellite for life support and power supply.
A Kontur-BM container with an autonomous life-support system was to house eight mongolian gerbils. Animals requiring very little water to surive would be fed with a paste-like substance containing 70 percent of water, rather than regular water and thus avoid a failure-prone systems. The hardware derived from an experiment originally developed to feed birds onboard the Mir space station, but it was also flight-tested onboard the last Foton-M satellite. It was expected to be the last mission of the Kontur-BM experiment.
During the entire mission, cages with mice, gerbils and geckos will be provided with light for 12 hours and left in darkness for another 12 hours. Animals would be video-monitored roughly every two hours during the "day" periods.
A pair of ventilated containers in the BB-1M experiment were to house snails -- a classic species for studies of vesicular system.
Another notable experiment was provided by researchers from Germany, who developed a sophisticated Omegahab fish aquarium with an artificial environment designed to grow fish eggs during the flight. In its closed-loop system, algae was designed to produce all necessary oxygen for the fish.
According to IMBP, Bion's diverse scientific program promised to better prepare humans for interplanetary missions.
According to the original plan, the Bion-M No. 1 was to carry an MKA-TUS astrophysics satellite that would be separated after the main spacecraft reached orbit. However, it was dropped from the mission and the available room on its holding adapter was offered to potential users. In May 2012, TsSKB Progress announced that secondary payloads from Germany, France and the Netherlands would be launched along with the test version of its Aist satellite during the first Bion-M mission.
Payloads and experiments onboard Bion-M No. 1 satellite (as of 2013):
Payloads and experiments onboard Bion-M No. 1 satellite (as of 2009):
*Reduced from original 60 and 45 days
Next chapter: Preparing Bion-M No. 1 for flight
The article by Anatoly Zak; Last update: May 24, 2013
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One of the rat housing units installed into the MLZh experiment during tests. Credit: IMBP
Eight mongolian gerbils would become key "passengers" on the Bion-M No. 1 mission, because of their small mass (40-50 grams) and low demand for water. Credit: IMBP
A cage with gerbils installed into the Kontur-BM unit. Credit: IMBP
A gecko "boards" its MLZh-01 container in preparation for launch of the Bion-M No. 1 satellite on April 17, 2013. Credit: TsENKI
Snails would be other live passengers on Bion-M. Credit: IMBP
An Omegahab fish tank for the Bion-M No.1 mission. Credit: IMBP
Preparation of Omehab experiment for launch. Credit: IMBP
The descent module of the Bion-M No. 1 satellite during pre-launch processing. Credit: Roskosmos