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Geckos onboard Russia’s Photon re-entry capsule die

September 01, 2014, 19:35 UTC+3 MOSCOW
The spacecraft carried specimens for research of the biological effects of zero gravity and cosmic radiation
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© ITAR-TASS/EPA/LUONG THAI LINH

MOSCOW, September 01./ITAR-TASS/. All geckos in Russia’s Photon re-entry capsule that landed on Monday died, the Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) said.

The sapce agency said the fruit flies “got through the flight quite well, grew and bred”, but “all geckos died, unfortunately”.

The Photon-M4 satellite was launched on July 19, 2014 from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan. The spacecraft carried specimens for research of the biological effects of zero gravity and cosmic radiation.

The specimens included geckos, silkworm eggs, dried seeds, fruit flies, and mushrooms. The geckos were part of biology experiments conducted by Russia’s Institute of Medico-Biological Problems on the effects of weightlessness on mating.

Another experiment aboard the spacecraft is designed to measure the effects of microgravity on semiconductor crystal growth.

The spacecraft’s flight time was limited to 60 days. Photon satellites are designed and made by the Progress Rocket and Space Centre for research and experiments in such fields as the physics of weightlessness, space biology and biotechnology, including the affect of outer space on living specimens.

Roscosmos said earlier in the day that the fruit flies “got through the flight quite well, grew and bred” but “all geckos died, unfortunately”.

 

The first satellites of the series was launched in 1985 and operated for 13 days.

In 2005, the Photon-M2 satellite carried out about 20 scientific Russian and European research programs. The next satellite, Photon-M3, in 2007 performed 45 Russian and foreign experiments.

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