Russian Cosmonaut Supports ADI Opposition to NASA Primate Experimentation for Space Research
Celebrated Russian cosmonaut and Guinness Book of World Records holder Valentin Lebedev is the latest member of the aerospace industry to publicly oppose NASA’s plans to test primates to investigate the effects of space radiation.
Though Russia reportedly plans to move forward with primate experimentation, Lebedev has voiced his opposition in a letter to Animal Defenders International (ADI) dated June 28, 2010, stating that he opposes experiment with monkeys which he describes as “inadmissible for humane reasons.“ Lebedev, who is currently Director of Scientific Geoinformation Centre and Corresponding Member of Russian Academy of Sciences, further noted that such tests are not necessary, because “the existing knowledge received from past experience of long time space flights is quite enough right now to predict their influence on people even regarding radiation issues.“
Though the Russian Federal Space Agency (Roscosmos) and the Netherlands-based European Space Agency (ESA) have recently undertaken the cooperative Mars500 project, the program component that involves future primate testing remains hotly debated. In a letter to ADI from Jean-Jacques Dordain, Acting Director General of the European Space Agency, Dordain confirmed that the ESA also does not support experimentation on primates, explaining that “ESA declines any interest in monkey research and does not consider any need or use for such research results.“
ADI President Jan Creamer stated, “It is a disgrace that public money is being wasted on cruel, unnecessary and unscientific experiments. These terrified animals will suffer radiation poisoning, cancer and neurological damage, in experiments where the outcome is already known. We know the effects of radiation. It is known that the solution in space is radiation shielding, not futile animal experiments. Even astronauts are opposed to this.“
The White House statement on radiation shielding
President Barack Obama declared in April 15, 2010: “after decades of neglect, we will increase investment – right away – in other groundbreaking technologies that will allow astronauts to reach space sooner and more often, to travel farther and faster for less cost, and to live and work in space for longer periods of time more safely. That means tackling major scientific and technological challenges. How do we shield astronauts from radiation on longer missions? How do we harness resources on distant worlds? How do we supply spacecraft with energy needed for these far-reaching journeys? These are questions that we can answer and will answer.”
The full speech is available here: