The French space agency, CNES, has signed an official contract to take part in Russia’s Bion-M2 bio-satellite project, a spokesperson for the Institute of Medical and Biological Problems of the Russian Academy of Sciences told TASS on Tuesday.
"Our American, German, Japanese and French colleagues applied for joining the Bion-M2 project. Besides, scientists from Hungary and Bulgaria also plan to take part. An official contract has already been signed with one of the applicants - France," the spokesperson said.
According to the official, Ukrainian scientists refused to participate in Bion-M2 due to a complicated political situation.
Research carried out as part of the Bion-M2 project would help scientists in their preparations for a spaceflight beyond the Earth’s magnetic field, to the Moon and even further.
Unlike its predecessors, which looked mainly into aspects of physiology, Bion-M2 will focus on effects that space radiation may have on a living organism.
"The main task is to investigate the risks that may occur during a human spaceflight beyond the lower earth orbit," said Vladimir Sychev, who heads the project. "The experiment will be carried out mostly on mice, there will be 65 of them in total. Cameras will be installed in their cage, and the video will be regularly transmitted to the earth."
Besides, fruit flies will also be sent to the orbit.
According to Sychev, the timeframe of the launch remains unchanged and it is scheduled for 2022.
The Bion-M2 spacecraft, designed and manufactured by the Progress Rocket Space Center, is expected to be launched from Baikonur atop the Soyuz-2.1b carrier rocket. For 30 days, the spacecraft will stay at the altitude of about 800-1,000 kilometers. The animals on board are expected to receive a dose of space radiation comparable to a three-year-long flight aboard the International Space Station.
Bion-M2 predecessor, Bion-M1, was launched in 2013. Its flight continued for 30 days, at the altitude of 580 kilometers.