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N° 8–1995: Russian Foton-10 experiment-carrying capsule damaged after landing

7 March 1995

Successfully launched on 16 February 1995 on a Soyuz launcher (see ESA Press Release no. 7-95) , the Russian Foton-10 capsule, carrying also ESA's Biobox incubator and three smaller experiments, landed safely at 11:34 hrs (Moscow time) on Friday 3 March 135 km South-East of Orenburg (South of the Ural mountains) after the planned mission.

Unfortunately, due to the very bad weather conditions, the transport helicopter had to drop the capsule as it was attempting to rescue it from the landing site and move it to a local airfield prior to retrieval and disassembly of the on board scientific experiments.

The crash severely damaged the capsule and its content. ESA's Biobox structure was irreparably wrecked and one of the three experiments it contained is reported missing. The three other ESA experiments which were hosted separately outside the Biobox incubator, were also severely damaged.

The ESA experiments flown on Foton-10 were mainly on cells responsible for bone demineralization and on small living organisms (fruit flies and algae) and came from researchers in Belgium, France, the Netherlands Spain and Russia.

The scientific return of the of Foton-10 mission can only be assessed after detailed investigations on the samples which have been returned to the Institutes of the various scientists for which the experiments were flown.


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