Source : RIA Novosti, Russianspaceweb.com
A spacecraft based on an ancient design comes crashing through the atmosphere, overshooting it pre-programmed landing zone, and emergency crews rush to the scene only to find half the crew has perished in space. And it’s not science fiction.
This is pretty much what took place in Russia over the weekend as the Bion-1M “Noah’s ark” returned from orbit to the Orenburg region, and didn’t exactly stick the landing, which occurred at 6:32 a.m. The spherical capsule, closely related to Yuri Gagarin’s original Vostok spacecraft, actually came down short of its intended target zone, but still within a rather large landing ellipse 180 km in length and 80 km wide.
As for the crew of mice, gerbils and fish, which was supposed to be flown to Moscow aboard a waiting aircraft for study before they re-adapted to gravity, the flight apparently went horribly awry shortly after launch. As a result of various failures beginning immediately after launch, only 6 brave mice out of a total of 45 survived. The news was not even that good for the gerbils and fish, for whom it was all a one-way trip.
In what can only be construed as a particularly elaborate, and some would say cynical advertising campaign for a certain U.S. insurance company, all 15 Geckos aboard survived the flight.