MOSCOW, February 24. /TASS/. The Progress Space Rocket Center (part of the state space corporation Roscosmos) has launched work on Bion-M No.2 satellite for delivering mice into outer space, the Center’s press office told TASS on Wednesday.
"Work has begun at the enterprise’s production units to make the spacecraft’s hulls, namely, the descent vehicle, the instrumentation and assembly compartments and solar panel sections," the press office said.
The space firm is also purchasing the necessary components to assemble the space vehicle. It has signed all the contracts on R&D work and is at the final stage of concluding deals on the production and delivery of onboard equipment, it added.
"Progress specialists are completing work on the design documentation and the documentation for holding the tests of the spacecraft’s integral parts and Bion-M No.2 satellite as a whole," the press office specified.
The Progress Space Rocket Center is currently not carrying work on the next Bion-M satellite as the scientific program and the satellite’s outfitting with onboard and research equipment have not been defined yet. At the same time, the space firm considers designing a Bion-M spacecraft with the option of its operation in a highly elliptical orbit (17,000-20,000 km). In October last year, Roscosmos Chief Dmitry Rogozin announced plans to launch a Kovcheg new biosatellite into an orbit of up to 20,000 km high in 2024.
The Bion is a series of domestic satellites focused on biological research. In particular, scientists want to study the impact of cosmic radiation and zero gravity on living organisms. Mice are the main object of research under Bion-M projects. A Bion biosatellite is also intended for delivering flies, plants and microorganisms into orbit. The first similar spacecraft named Kosmos-605 was launched in 1973. In 2013, the first spacecraft of the Bion-M series was put into orbit. It delivered mice, Mongolian gerbils, geckos and various communities of microorganisms into outer space.