NASA launched three satellites named Biosatellite 1, 2 and 3 between 1966 and 1969.
NASA's Biosatellite program was a series of three satellites to assess the effects of spaceflight, especially radiation and weightlessness, on living organisms. Each was designed to reenter and be recovered at the end of its mission.
Its primary goal was that it intended to determine effects of space environment, particularly weightlessness, on life processes at three levels of organization: basic biochemistry of the cell; structure of growth of cells and tissues; and growth and form of entire plants and animals.
The first two Biosatellites carried specimens of fruit flies, frog eggs, bacteria, and wheat seedlings; the third carried a monkey. Biosatellite 1 was not recovered because of the failure of a retrorocket to ignite. However, Biosatellite-2 successfully deorbited and was recovered in midair by the United States Air Force. Its 13 experiments, exposed to microgravity during a 45-hour orbital flight, provided the first data by US about basic biological processes in space. Biosatellite 3, launched on June 29, 1969, carried a 6-kg male pig-tailed monkey, called Bonnie, with the object of investigating the effect of spaceflight on brain states, behavioral performance, cardiovascular status, fluid and electrolyte balance, and metabolic state. Scheduled to remain in orbit for 30 days, the mission was terminated after only 8.8 days because of the subject’s deteriorating health and the coming launch of Apollo 11 on the 16th. Despite the seeming failure of the mission’s scientific agenda, Biosatellite 3 was influential in shaping the life sciences flight experiment program, highlighting the need for centralized management, realistic goals, and adequate preflight experiment verification.
- Rosenthal, Alfred. "A record of NASA space missions since 1958". NASA. NASA Technical Reports Server. Retrieved 24 September 2011.