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Russia’s Photon-M scientific spacecraft set for landing on Monday

September 01, 2014, 8:05 UTC+3 MOSCOW

Estimated time of landing - 13:18 Moscow time

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© ITAR-TASS/Sergey Kazak

MOSCOW, September 01, /ITAR-TASS/. Russia’s Photon-M satellite is set to land on Monday in Russia’s southern Urals after spending over a month and a half in the space for scientific purposes, the Russian Space Agency (Roscosmos) reported.

“A state commission made a decision to land the descent capsule of Photon-M satellite in Russia’s Orenburg Region,” Roscosmos said. “The estimated time of landing is 13:18 Moscow time [9:18 GMT].”

The Photon-M4 satellite was launched on July 19, 2014 from the Baikonur space center in Kazakhstan. The spacecraft carried specimens for research on the biological effects of zero gravity and cosmic radiation.

The specimens include geckos, silkworm eggs, dried seeds, fruit flies, and mushrooms. The geckos are part of biology experiments by Russia’s Institute of Medico-Biological Problems on the effects of weightlessness on mating.

Another experiment aboard the spacecraft is designed to measure the effects of microgravity on semiconductor crystal growth.

Several hours after the blastoff, the control communication with Photon-M was disrupted, although the spacecraft continued to transmit telemetric information. As a result of the malfunction, the satellite stayed on the support orbit, instead of being placed into the designated orbit by its own engine on command from the Earth.

The Institute of Medico-Biological Problems said after the control loss incident that it did not affect in any way the onboard life support system and the program of automatic experiments.

It took seven days to restore the communication with the spacecraft.

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