Longest time survived in space by bacteria
(low Earth orbit)
From 7 April 1984 to 11 January 1990 E.Coli bacteria cells survived unshielded onboard NASA’s Long Duration Exposure Facility satellite, in low Earth orbit. The cylindrical satellite and its 57 experiments were retrieved by the space shuttle Challenger. Hardware samples removed from the US unmanned lunar probe Surveyor 3 were returned to Earth by the crew of Apollo 12 in November 1969. Upon analysis of the hardware it was discovered that bacterial organisms (Streptococcus mitis), that had contaminated Surveyor 3 before its launch on 17 April 1967, had survived more than two-and-a-half years in space.