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Wayward Soviet Monkey's Spaceflight Ends

October 13, 1987|From Times Wire Services

MOSCOW — A Soviet space capsule carrying a mischievous monkey returned to Earth on Monday as scheduled but landed more than 1,000 miles off target, the official Tass news agency said.

"The descent module of the biological satellite Cosmos 1887 touched down . . . in an area which was not its predetermined landing site," Tass said.

The news agency said the spacecraft made a parachute landing near the Siberian city of Mirny. Soviet officials had said the satellite would land near Baikonur, in Kazakhstan--more than 1,000 miles to the west.

Tass did not say what caused the change in landing areas and did not mention Yarosha, the curious monkey who freed an arm from his restraints and through his playful antics threatened to force the mission to be terminated early.

The omission of such information as well as the delay in reporting the landing were unusual. Landings of space vehicles usually are reported within one hour by Tass, but the initial dispatch on the return of the capsule was distributed 10 hours after the event.

The capsule, which was launched Sept. 29 to test the effects of spaceflight on animals, also carried rats, insects and other organisms.

On the fifth day of the flight, television monitors showed that Yarosha had freed his left arm from its restraint and that he had removed a nameplate from his helmet. Soviet scientists said that Yarosha was isolated in a sealed chamber aboard the capsule and that he could not hurt anything with the free arm.

Originally, Soviet scientists were to meet the flight as it landed in Kazakhstan, destroy some of the smaller animals and then fly their tissue to Moscow for examination.

Whether it would be necessary to destroy Yarosha and another monkey, Dryoma, was uncertain. However, Tass said a team of scientists had flown to the backup landing area and "the necessary work is being done at the landing site."

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