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Russian retrieves space capsule, most creatures die


16:57, May 20, 2013

BEIJING, May 20 (Xinhuanet) -- Russian space officials announced that a capsule containing mice and lizards has returned to Earth, but most of them died during their time in space, according to media reports Monday.

The Bion-M capsule, carrying 45 mice, 15 newts, snails, lizards, plants, microflora, and eight gerbils, landed softly in the Orenburg Region, about 1,200 km southeast of Moscow, but majority of the mice and newts failed to survive, while all of the gerbils perished.

The trip was to test the effects of microgravity on living organisms' skeletons, nervous systems, muscles and hearts.

It is part of a larger effort by Russia to remain one of the preeminent space powers. Russia’s hope was that it would aide on the path to a manned mission to Mars.

The mission was praised by Russian media as something that no other country had done. It harked back to early flights when Laika, a stray dog from Moscow, was fired into orbit in 1957. She died within hours of reaching space.

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