Looks like the Russians are set to eject another animal into space. Back in 1957, they put Laika, a dog, into orbit. Laika died several hours later, presumably from stress and overheating (though the Russians initially reported that she lived for several days. The truth finally came out in 2002).
Now they’re looking at sending a monkey to Mars. They were planning on sending cosmonauts, but decided that “given the length of the flight to Mars, and given the cosmic rays for which we don’t have adequate protection over such a long trip, discussions have focused recently on sending an ape instead of a person.”
Hmmm… Animal rights activists, are you listening?
The monkey will be fed and cared for by an accompanying robot (an Incredible Journey for the new millennia?). This is assuming the monkey lives long enough to be cared for. While I understand the need and desire for space exploration (I’m a big fan), I’m not sure that we should be making judgments about which life is more expendable. Unless we’re planning on making Mars the new Planet Of The Apes. I mean, heck, if it’s gonna be a new home world for our simian friends, then maybe there’s an argument to be made. Otherwise, if it’s important enough to do and it’s for mankind, then it should be important enough to risk human lives (volunteering humans, that is). At least this time, unlike in Laika’s day, the monkey’s being given a round trip ticket. But it sounds very possible only the robot will return in “working’ order. The European Space Agency claims that the mission would take approximately 520 days (a year and a half).
This is, of course, not the first time the Russians have sent apes into space. The Russians first put monkeys into orbit back in 1983.
Cornelius, Caesar, where are you when we need you?