The National Anti-Vivisection Society (NAVS) has called plans by the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) to send monkeys into space in the coming weeks a pointlessly cruel and retrograde step in space research.
Recent news reports have stated that a number of primates are currently in quarantine and an unknown number will be sent into space at the beginning of February, during a 10-day period when the Iranian Revolution is commemorated. One article refers to a failed attempt to send a monkey into space in 2011 although no further details of this mission were given.
The use of primates in research will not enable the ISA, as it has claimed, to “examine human factors in space”. A critical review of research on primates has found that results can be “irrelevant, unnecessary, even hazardous to human health and to have little or no predictive value or application to human medicine.”
The ISA’s decision is at odds with the European Space Agency (ESA) which has distanced itself from the use of primates, previously commenting that “ESA declines any interest in monkey research and does not consider any need or use for such research results”. In 2010, NASA also abandoned plans to carry out radiation experiments on squirrel monkeys.
NAVS Chief Executive Jan Creamer: “If Iran continues with this mission, they will be taking a huge leap backwards for space research. Manned space missions provide a wealth of data, the benefits of which are incomparable to the use of animals. To press ahead with sending a monkey into space would be inexcusable.”
In the words of Soviet cosmonaut Valentin Lebedev, who set a world record for time in space, “The existing knowledge received from past experience of long time space flights is quite enough right now to predict their influence on people”.
National Anti Vivisection Society
Millbank Tower, Millbank, London SW1P 4QP
Tel: 020 7630 3340