Russia's "Orbital Noah's Ark" Due to Land Tonight

Russia's "Orbital Noah's Ark" Due to Land Tonight

A Russian spacecraft carrying a menagerie of animals that have been in orbit for a month is scheduled to land tonight, Saturday, May 18, Eastern Daylight Time (EDT).

The Bion-1M capsule was launched on April 19, the first of a new generation of Bion spacecraft.   NASA and Russia’s space agency collaborated on many of the earlier Bion flights, which ended in 1996 after U.S. animal rights groups protested the use of monkeys for such experiments.  One of the two monkeys on the 1996 flight died after it returned to Earth.

This flight carries no monkeys, but mice, gerbils, geckos, snails, and containers with various microorganisms and plants.   The flight has been dubbed an “orbital Noah’s Ark” or a “space zoo” because of the variety of animals aboard.  NASA is a partner in the fight, providing Animal Enclosure Units and participating in rodent research.

Landing is expected at 10:12 pm EDT (which will be May 19, 7:12 am Moscow Time, or May 19, 03:12 GMT) 82 kilometers north of Orenburg according to Anatoly Zak at  and Bob Christy at  Both have posted the ground track for the reentry.

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