Animal Defenders International


Animal Defenders International

Animals perish during Russian mission

Posted: 30 May 2013. Updated: 30 May 2013

According to press reports, on 19 April 2013, a Russian space mission was launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Central Asia, with 45 mice, 8 gerbils, 15 geckos, slugs and snails on board. The Bion-M craft returned to earth a month later but although the animals were expected to return alive, 39 of the mice, all of the gerbils and cichlid fish died during the mission. The animals reportedly died as a result of “equipment failure or due to the stresses of space”.

The craft orbited 357 miles above Earth for a month, during which the health of the animals was to be monitored from the ground.

The project was run by Russia’s Federal Space Agency, Roscosmos, in collaboration with NASA and an international team of scientists. According to France’s Center National d’Etudes Spatiales (CNES) 15 of the mice came from a French research lab.

The purpose of the mission was to study how long term space travel affects animals. One of the experiments that NASA was involved with focused on how microgravity and radiation affect sperm motility in mice.

The animals’ lives were always to be short-lived – if they had survived the trip and re-entry, they would have been killed for analysis – like so many other animals in past decades.

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