COPENHAGEN (Reuters) - Denmark will send its first man into space on Wednesday and in keeping with the country's love of all things cycling, one of his jobs will be to test new equipment on Danish-made exercise bikes at the International Space Station.
Dubbed "Denmark's Gagarin" by European Space Agency officials after the first man in space, Andreas Mogensen will lift off at 0437 GMT (12:37 a.m. EDT) accompanied by Russian Sergei Volkov and Kazakh Aidyn Aimbetov on ESA's 10-day "sprint" mission.
The aim is to test equipment in areas of telerobotics and communications as well as monitoring the impact of space travel on Mogensen himself as his short voyage is unique in missions that normally last several months, according to ESA.
But he will also test out a new heart rate monitor and force-measuring pedals on exercise bikes built by the Danish Aerospace Company (DAC), according to the company's website.
The Danish exercise bikes -- with no seats as none are needed in gravity-free conditions -- were launched in 2001 and replaced or upgraded several times since. They are part of the way astronauts battle the negative impact of being in space.
DAC runs one of seven ESA control centers with a live link to the International Space Station, running medical experiments and monitoring vital statistics of astronauts.
At a pre-flight news conference at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan from where the Russian Soyuz space craft will launch, the upbeat Mogensen said he had specially shaved his right leg to allow Volkov to better apply electrodes to the limb for the experiments in space. No bicycles were mentioned.
(Reporting by Alexander Tange in Copenhagen and Shamil Zhumatov in Baikonur; Writing by Sabina Zawadzki; Editing by Mark Heinrich)