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Main » 2014 » September » 24 » Russian Foton back on Earth after six-week mission.

Russian Foton back on Earth after six-week mission.

On September 01, 2014 at 09:18 UTC the Russian “Foton-M4” unmanned scientific spacecraft returned to Earth.

The Foton-M4 landing capsule with famed reptilian space tourists, known affectionately as the “sex geckos” (owing to the carnal nature of their space voyage), and also with drosophila fruit flies, seeds of plants, landed in the Orenburg region of southern Russia. Once reaching the landing site, a field lab was established to perform initial analysis of the scientific payloads at the landing site. Unfortunately, all the five geckos have died. The Foton-M4 satellite was launched on July 19, 2014 from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan. 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. The biosatellite experienced problems earlier in July, when communication with Foton-M was lost for more than a week but successfully restored. The design and onboard control systems of Foton-M enable its self-sufficient operation. Over the course of six weeks, Foton-M4 completed a total of 22 experiments accounting for a total science payload of 420 kilograms installed inside the pressurized capsule and on its exterior in special containers that were opened up to expose samples to space before closing the compartments up for re-entry at the end of the flight. The first satellites of the series was launched in 1985 and operated for 13 days. In 2005, the Foton-M2 satellite carried out about 20 scientific Russian and European research programs. The next satellite, Foton-M3, in 2007 performed 45 Russian and foreign experiments

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