All systems go for Russian cockroach-carrying bio-satellite
( RIA Novosti ) The first experiments are due to begin on board the Foton-M bio-satellite, launched Friday on a Soyuz rocket from the Baikonur space center, the head of the project told journalists.
The cockroach-carrying bio-satellite, whose passengers also includes snails, lizards, butterflies and gerbils, took off at 3 p.m. Moscow time (11 a.m. GMT).
The satellite, and its on-board equipment, is functioning normally, and artificial day and night cycles have already been put into motion for the gerbils, the spokesman told journalists.
The bio-satellite is to make a twelve-day flight, with its return to Earth planned for 4:33 a.m. Moscow time (1:33 a.m. GMT) on September 26.
The flight is part of an ongoing experiment into the effects of space flight by the Institute of Biomedical Problems (IBMP). The creatures are sealed in special containers, and a video camera is to film them during the flight, a Moscow-based IBMP spokesman said earlier.
The Foton launch went ahead despite the September 6 crash of a Proton-M rocket which came down shortly after lift off from Baikonur.
"The Proton is a heavy rocket, which uses highly toxic heptyl as fuel, whereas the Soyuz is a medium-class booster using environmentally friendly fuel - kerosene and liquid oxygen," a Federal Space Agency spokesman said on Tuesday, adding that the two rockets are also produced by different plants - in Moscow and in Samara, respectively.