NASA Engineer Resigns Over Monkey Radiation Experiments
NASA engineer April Evans recently resigned when the space agency refused to address her concerns about its proposed monkey radiation experiments.
Evans’ decision to quit NASA, where she was an architect on the International Space Station, has received extensive coverage, including a story in the Houston Chronicle.
In September, Evans left a voicemail message for employees at Brookhaven National Laboratory on Long Island, where the squirrel monkeys will be exposed to radiation, and McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., where the animals will be housed during the duration of the experiments.
“I’m calling because your employer is responsible for making the final decision on whether to allow NASA to expose squirrel monkeys to harmful levels of radiation,” said Evans in her voicemail. “Irradiating monkeys cannot bridge the gap of knowledge critical to enabling long-term human space exploration. There are better strategic approaches available for NASA to combat radiation, such as developing space radiation shielding technologies to protect our astronauts.”
NASA’s planned experiments involve spending $1.75 million to study the effects of a few hours of radiation exposure on 2-pound squirrel monkeys in an attempt to determine the effects of months or years of space travel on 180-pound human astronauts. PCRM is pushing the agency instead to allocate this money toward modern nonanimal alternatives, such as anthropomorphic phantoms, which are proven more accurate than animal experiments.
European Space Agency Opposes Monkey Experiments
The European Space Agency recently became the first space agency to voice clear opposition to primate experimentation. In April, the agency’s director Jean-Jacques Dordain wrote a letter to Animal Defenders International stating that the European Space Agency (ESA) “declines any interest in monkey research and does not consider any need or use for such result.”
This demonstrates a clear opposition to NASA’s proposed monkey radiation experiments. PCRM and other organizations are urging NASA to consider ESA’s views and focus on nonanimal research methods relevant to human astronauts.