We Don't Approve!

2nd July 2010

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Given the difficulties and risks posed to humans, Russia is to prepare a monkey for a space mission to planet Mars.

Russia has been sending monkeys to space for over two decades and this time a short-tailed monkey will be the first to fly to Mars.

The monkey will experience radiation that would have posed risk to astronauts.

The director of an institute that supplied monkeys to the Soviet space program in the '80s says the facility is in talks with Russia's Cosmonautics Academy over supplying animals for a simulated Mars mission.

"We have plans to return to space," said Zurab Mikvabia, director of the Institute of Experimental Pathology and Therapy, which supplied apes for the Soviet Union's space program in the 1980s.

"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," Mikvabia said.

A round-trip mission could take 520 days, or about a year and a half. A robot on board will accompany the monkey to feed the monkey, and clean up after it.