A Russian Soyuz launcher carrying the Foton-10 satellite, a retrievable capsule carrying a set of biological experiments in an incubator named Biobox, was successfully launched on 16 February from the Plesetsk cosmodrome (Northern Russia) at 20h40 Moscow time (18h40 Paris time).This is the fourth time that ESA is present with a major microgravity payload facility on an unmanned Russian satellite. The retrievable Foton-10 capsule, that is scheduled to land in the Russian-Kazakh border region on 3 March, carries the Biobox-2 incubator with experiments on cells responsible for bone mineralization and on small living organism (fruit flies and algae) from research institutes in Belgium, France, the Netherlands, Spain and Russia. These experiments will contribute to a better understanding of the phenomenon of bone mass loss experienced by astronauts in space and will help identify and quantify the influence of absence of gravity on living systems.
The previous missions in this domain with large ESA
involvement have been:
During the current flight of the Foton-10 capsule, Biobox
data will be passed on from the Foton Flight Control Centre
in Moscow to ESA's microgravity Laboratory Moslab, in
Moscow, from where they will be distributed via a Wide
Area Network to the investigators' home institutes.
After landing, the entire ESA payload will be dismounted
from the capsule and flown back to Moslab within 48 hours
for final disassembly and first data analysis.
The Foton 10 payload development and mission management
was carried out under the responsibility of ESA's
Microgravity Payload Division at ESA's research and
technology centre ESTEC in the Netherlands. Biobox was
developed under the industrial prime contractorship of
Dornier (Germany) while all flight and ground operations in
Russia are run for ESA by Kayser Italia (Italy).
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