Development of the Bion satellite began in 1970 at the Kuybyshev Branch of the OKB-1 (now the GNPRKTs TsSKB-Progress) for conducting biomedical experiments in Earth orbit. The subcontractor for the main payload was the Moscow-based Institute of Biomedical Problems (IMBP). The spacecraft design was based on the Zenit-2M/Gektor photo-reconnaissance satellite bus.

The nominal orbit of operation for Bion was 226 X 288 km at 82.3° and lifetime was <30 days. Mass was <5400 kg of which 625 kg was actual scientific instrumentation.

Of the ten Bion missions launched to date, the last eight (beginning with Kosmos-782) have involved cooperative international ventures with the United States. U.S. scientists have used nearly 50 biological specimens in the program, ranging from viruses to mamals, and including monkeys, rabbits, guinea pigs, rats, mice, tortoises, higher plants, fish, birds, and insects. Apart from the U.S., nine other countries have also participated. The European Space Agency (ESA) cooperated for the first time with Kosmos-1887.

Kosmos-1129 was the first attempt to breed rats in space.

Kosmos-1514 carried two monkeys, Abrek and Bion. It was the first time that the USSR flew monkeys in space.

Kosmos-1667 carried two monkeys, Verny and Gordy.

Kosmos-1887 carried two monkeys, Yerosha and Dryoma.

Kosmos-2044 carried two monkeys, Zhakonya and Zabikaya. Special note to Dwayne Day: the backup monkey was Zemlyanin. Apparently the prime monkeys were originally the backup crew.

Kosmos-2229 carried two Rhesus monkeys, Krosh and Ivasha.

Bion-11 carried two Macaque monkeys, Lapik and Multik. The latter died the day after landing in an episode unrelated to the monkey’s experience in space.

The Chief of the Kuybyshev Branch of the OKB-1 since 1959 has been D. I. Kozlov (from 1983, the General Designer).


Public Name Industrial Index OKB Name Serial No. Launch Time (Moscow Time) Launch Date Launch Vehicle LV Serial No. Launch Site Length of Mission (Days)
Kosmos-605   12KS 1 2125 Oct 31 1973 11A511U   P-43/3 21.5
Kosmos-690   12KS 2 2100 Oct 22 1974 11A511U   P-43/3 20.5
Kosmos-782   12KS 3 2000 Nov 25 1975 11A511U   P-43/3 19.5
Kosmos-936   12KS 4 1700 Aug 3 1977 11A511U   P-43/3 18.6
Kosmos-1129   12KS 5 1830 Sep 25 1979 11A511U   P-41/1 18.5
Kosmos-1514   12KS 6 1000 Dec 14 1983 11A511U   P-41/1 5
Kosmos-1667   12KS 7 0615 Jul 10 1985 11A511U   P-41/1 6.9
Kosmos-1887   12KS 8 1550 Sep 29 1987 11A511U   P-41/1 13
Kosmos-2044   12KS 9 0930 Sep 15 1989 11A511U   P-41/1 14
Kosmos-2229   12KS 10 1630 Dec 29 1982 11A511U   P-43/3 12
Bion No. 11   12KS 11 1650:00 Dec 24 1996 11A511U PVB 15000-050 P-43/4 15



[1]. Phillip Clark, Jane's Space Directory, 13th ed., 1997-98 (Coulsdon, UK: Jane's Information Group, 1997), pp. 119-120.

[2]. B. Harvey, "Biosputniks: The Use by the Soviet Union and Russia of Dogs, Monkeys and Other Animals in the Exploration of Space, 1949-93," Journal of the British Interplanetary Society 46 (October 1993): 381-384.

[3]. D. I. Kozlov, ed., Konstruirovaniye avtomaticheskikh kosmicheskikh apparatov (Moscow: Mashinostroyeniye, 1996), pp. 26-27.

[4]. K. Vernyakov, "Special Preparation and Launch of the 'Bion' KA" (in Russian), Novosti kosmonavtiki 26 (December 16-31, 1996): 34-38.

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