Giant Leap Backward: NASA's Cruel Radiation Testing on Monkeys

The Physicians Committee

Giant Leap Backward: NASA's Cruel Radiation Testing on Monkeys

Houston, we have a problem: Don't Nuke the Monkeys

BREAKING NEWS: NASA Forced to Suspend Cruel Monkey Experiments!

It has been two decades since NASA conducted radiation research on nonhuman primates, but recently, the agency announced plans for experiments that involve the irradiation of live monkeys. Even worse, NASA plans to use this four-year study as a baseline for future research.

This is piling bad science on top of bad science. NASA and the U.S. Air Force conducted radiation research on nonhuman primates for four decades, but this research was ended in 1990 because it failed to achieve its most basic goal: to advance the medical safety aspects of space travel.

NASA has announced a $1.75 million grant to Dr. Jack Bergman of McLean Hospital in Belmont, Mass., to study the effects of deep-space radiation on human astronauts by dosing squirrel monkeys with heavy-ionizing radiation. The experiments will be conducted at Brookhaven National Laboratory, a Department of Energy facility.

Biological, anatomical, and physiological differences between nonhuman primates and humans render this type of research ineffective. Squirrel monkeys, in particular, are a poor substitute for the human anatomy, given that these tiny creatures weigh on average only 1-2 pounds.


$1.75 million

Taxpayer money awarded for this cruel and unnecessary study


Years of federally funded monkey radiation research that resulted in no data that is applicable to humans


Squirrel monkeys to be irradiated


Years since NASA has engaged in radiation research using nonhuman primates


Number of “replacement” monkeys used in the protocol

A NASA engineer and architect of the International Space Station recently resigned her post in protest of these experiments. She wrote that she “could not support the scientific justification for this radiobiology experiment.”