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Bion (satellite)

A Bion spacecraft, on display
ManufacturerTsSKB Progress
Country of originSoviet Union
RegimeLow Earth orbit
Design life5-22 days
(Bion-M in service)
Maiden launchKosmos 605
31 October 1973
Last launchBion No.11
24 December 1996
Related spacecraft
Derived fromVostok

An artist's concept of a Bion satellite in orbit

The Bion satellites (Russian: Бион), also named Biocosmos,[1] is a series of Soviet (later Russian) biosatellites focused on space medicine.

Bion space program

Bion precursor flights and Bion flights

The Soviet biosatellite program began in 1966 with Kosmos 110, and resumed in 1973 with Kosmos 605. Cooperation in space ventures between the Soviet Union and the United States was initiated in 1971, with the signing of the United States and Soviet Union in Science and Applications Agreement (which included an agreement on space research cooperation). The Soviet Union first offered to fly U.S. experiments on a Kosmos biosatellite in 1974, only a few years after the termination (in 1969) of the U.S. biosatellite program. The offer was realized in 1975 when the first joint U.S./Soviet research were carried out on the Kosmos 782 mission.

The Bion spacecraft were based on the Zenit spacecraft and launches began in 1973 with primary emphasis on the problems of radiation effects on human beings. Launches in the program included Kosmos 110, 605, 690, 782, plus Nauka modules flown on Zenit-2M reconnaissance satellites. 90 kg (200 lb) of equipment could be contained in the external Nauka module.

The Soviet/Russian Bion program provided U.S. investigators a platform for launching Fundamental Space Biology and biomedical experiments into space. The Bion program, which began in 1966, included a series of missions that flew biological experiments using primates, rodents, insects, cells, and plants on a biosatellite in near Earth orbit. NASA became involved in the program in 1975 and participated in 9 of the 11 Bion missions.[2] NASA ended its participation in the program with the Bion No.11 mission launched in December 1996. The collaboration resulted in the flight of more than 100 U.S. experiments, one-half of all U.S. life sciences flight experiments accomplished with non-human subjects.[2]

The missions ranged from five days (Bion 6) (Kosmos 1514) to around 22 days (Bion 1 and Kosmos 110).[3]


In 2005, the Bion program was resumed with three new satellites of the modified Bion-M type – the first flight was launched on 19 April 2013 from Baikonur Cosmodrome, Kazakhstan. The first satellite of the new series Bion-M1 featured an aquarium by the German Aerospace Center (DLR)[4] and carried 45 mice, 18 Mongolian gerbils, 15 geckos, snails, fish and micro-organisms into orbit for 30 days before re-entry and recovery.[5][6] All the gerbils died due to a hardware failure, but condition of the rest of the experiments, including all geckos, was satisfactory. Half the mice died as was predicted.[7]

Bion-M2 is scheduled to launch no earlier than 1 September 2024 on a Soyuz 2.1a rocket to an altitude of 800 km.[8] The orbiter will carry 75 mice and studies will focus on how they are affected at the molecular level by space radiation.

Launch history

Bion (satellite)
Bion program Bion no. Kosmos no. Launch Date
Rocket Launch Site
Bion precursor flight unnumbered Kosmos 110 22 February 1966, 20:09:36 GMT Voskhod Baikonur, Site 31/6
Bion flights Bion 1 Kosmos 605 31 October 1973, 18:24:59 Soyuz-U Plesetsk, Site 43/3
Bion 2 Kosmos 690 22 October 1974, 17:59:59 Soyuz-U Plesetsk
Bion 3 Kosmos 782 25 November 1975, 17:00:00 Soyuz-U Plesetsk
Bion 4 Kosmos 936 3 August 1977, 14:00:00 Soyuz-U Plesetsk
Bion 5 Kosmos 1129 25 September 1979, 15:30:00 Soyuz-U Plesetsk
Bion 6 Kosmos 1514 14 December 1983, 07:00:00 Soyuz-U Plesetsk
Bion 7 Kosmos 1667 10 July 1985, 03:15:00 Soyuz-U Plesetsk
Bion 8 Kosmos 1887 29 September 1987, 12:50:00 Soyuz-U Plesetsk
Bion 9 Kosmos 2044 15 September 1989, 06:30:00 Soyuz-U Plesetsk
Bion 10 Kosmos 2229 29 December 1992, 13:30:00 Soyuz-U Plesetsk
Bion 11 unnumbered 24 December 1996, 13:50:00 Soyuz-U Plesetsk
Bion-M flights Bion-M No.1 unnumbered 19 April 2013, 10:00:00 Soyuz 2.1a Baikonur, Site 31/6
Bion-M No.2 1 September 2024[9] Soyuz 2.1b Baikonur, Site 31/6
Bion-M No.3 2027[10]

See also


  1. ^ "Display: Bion 2 1974-080A". NASA. 14 May 2020. Retrieved 16 January 2021. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  2. ^ a b "Past Programs: Bion Biosatellite Program". NASA. Archived from the original on 2 August 2007. Retrieved 21 August 2012. Public Domain This article incorporates text from this source, which is in the public domain.
  3. ^ "Bion". Archived from the original on 27 February 2007. Retrieved 21 August 2012.
  4. ^ "Проведение исследований в области космической биологии в условиях микрогравитации на космическом аппарате "Бион-М" №1" [Research in the field of space biology in microgravity on the spacecraft "Bion-M" № 1] (in Russian). Archived from the original on 20 September 2012. Retrieved 2 September 2012.
  5. ^ "Государственная корпорация по космической деятельности РОСКОСМОС". Archived from the original on 19 June 2013. Retrieved 9 August 2017.
  6. ^ "Russia retrieves mice, newts from space". Arab News. Agence France Presse. 21 May 2013. Archived from the original on 18 July 2022. Retrieved 18 July 2022.
  7. ^ "Gerbils, half of mice die during satellite flight - experiment chief". Retrieved 9 August 2017.[permanent dead link]
  8. ^ ""Бион-М" №2 планируют запустить 1 сентября" ["Bion-M" No. 2 is planned to be launched on September 1]. TASS (in Russian). 8 April 2024. Retrieved 18 April 2024.
  9. ^ ""Бион-М" №2 планируют запустить 1 сентября" ["Bion-M" No. 2 is planned to be launched on September 1]. TASS (in Russian). 8 April 2024. Retrieved 18 April 2024.
  10. ^ "Олег Орлов: ученые хотят проводить длительные миссии на РОС" [Oleg Orlov: scientists want to conduct long-term missions to the ROS]. RIA Novosti (in Russian). 22 August 2022. Retrieved 23 August 2022.
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Bion (satellite)
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