Russia To Launch Mice, Reptiles & Insects Into Space With Bion-M2 Biosatellite

Russia’s second biosatellite, Bion-M2, with mice, reptiles, insects, plants and microorganisms onboard is planned to be launched in 2024, Oleg Orlov, the chief of the Institute of Biomedical Problems at the Russian Academy of Sciences, told Sputnik on Friday.

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Russia initially intended to send this Noah’s arc-like satellite into orbit in early 2022 but then postponed the launch until 2023.

“The year 2024 is being discussed,” Orlov said on the sidelines of the Global Space Exploration Conference (GLEX) when asked about the timing of the Bion-M flight.

The first Bion-M biosatellite was launched into orbit in April of 2013. The flight lasted for one month, and part of the animals on board died as a result of technical failures. The second biosatellite’s mission is also set to last a month, with the satellite launched to an altitude of about 800 kilometers (500 miles) above the Earth.

GLEX is an annual event that brings together representatives of scientific circles, governments and industries since 2012. This year’s edition started on Monday in the Russian city of St. Petersburg and will end on Friday.

Russia-Tunisia Space Collaboration

Earlier, cooperation in space has become a subject of growing interest in Russia and Tunisia after the launch of the first Tunisian satellite onboard Russian carrier rocket Soyuz this year, Tunisian Ambassador Tarak Ben Salem told Sputnik.

File:Canopus-B.jpg - Wikimedia Commons
File Image: Canopus-B.- Wikimedia Commons

“Aerospace cooperation is now the subject of a particular interest, mainly after the launch of the Tunisian satellite Challenge ONE on March 22 by the Russian Soyuz-2 rocket from the Russian Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, and the agreement to expand this cooperation via the creation of a center of aerospace technologies and science in Tunisia,” the ambassador said.

The first domestically-made Tunisian satellite Challenge ONE was inaugurated in 2019. The date of the March 22 launch coincided with Tunisia’s independence day. Tunisian aerospace and telecommunications company Telnet signed a deal with Russia’s Glavkosmos Launch Services, the operator of Soyuz-2 commercial launches, for a total of 30 Tunisian satellites to be placed into orbit by 2023.

According to Ben Salem, Tunisian President Kais Saied wished to see Russia contribute to the training of the first Tunisian woman astronaut. Russian state space corporation Roscosmos has recently announced that it was negotiating a spaceflight to the International Space Station onboard a Soyuz spacecraft by representatives of four countries, including Tunisia.

The Tunisian diplomat also stressed that there are several areas of common interest on which Tunisia and Russia could work together.

“The next session of the [Russian-Tunisian Intergovernmental] Commission, which will take place in Moscow before the end of this year, hopefully, will be a favorable occasion to discuss new areas of cooperation and to enrich the legal framework by signing several other programs of cooperation in the fields of health, education, sports, culture and environment,” he said.

Tunisia and Russia can cooperate in many spheres, including railroad and maritime infrastructure projects, agricultural development and tourism investments, the ambassador said, adding that the countries can also join forces in the fight against environmental pollution.