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Russia's Progress develops new Bion-M biosatellite

SAMARA, April 1 (RIA Novosti) - Russia' Progress design and production center is developing a new Bion-M biosatellite for scientific and applied research in space biology and medicine, a spokesman for the center said on Tuesday.

He said the new Bion-M being developed by the Samara-based company (European Russia) will be capable of "spending around six months in orbit compared to the current 14 days."

He also said a more advanced engine will allow the new research craft to reach a higher orbit of 400-500 km compared with 200-300 km.

The first Bion-M is scheduled for launch in 2010 with the second to follow three years later.

Experts say that the scientific data obtained through Bion-M research will extend the time humans can stay in space by up to two or three years.

A total of 11 Bions have been launched since 1973 with over 37 kinds of biological species on board, including single-cell organisms, plants, rats, tortoises and monkeys.

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