A series of large Soviet spacecraft, based on the Zenit reconnaissance
satellite and designed to study the biological effects of weightlessness
and radiation in space. Bion missions were typically given Cosmos designations.
The first Bion launch – Cosmos 605 on Oct. 31, 1973 – took tortoises,
rats, insects, and fungi on a 22-day mission. Other flights have carried
mold, quail eggs, fish, newts, frogs, protozoans, and seeds. Starting with
Bion 6 (Cosmos 1514), launched on Dec. 14, 1983, they also carried pairs
of monkeys. Experiments were supplied by scientists from various countries,
including the United States, France, Germany, China, and Eastern bloc nations.
An onboard centrifuge simulated normal Earth gravity and enabled post-mission
comparisons to be made between specimens that had floated freely in zero-g
and their companions who had experienced artificial gravity. Eleven Bions
were launched between 1973 and 1996.
| Bion 4 (Cosmos 936)
AND SPACE PROBES
AND AEROSPACE MEDICINE