CHINA: Chinese officials have reportedly planned to send monkeys to the Tiangong space station to study how they grow and reproduce in zero gravity.
The experiment will be carried out in the largest module of the space station, which is primarily utilised for life sciences investigations.
The space state quoted Chinese scientist Zhang Lu saying that after studying smaller organisms like fish and snails, “some studies involving mice and macaques (monkeys) will now be carried out to see how they grow or even reproduce in space.” Zhang Lu oversaw scientific research for space exploration.
By carrying out these investigations, he believes we will better understand how organisms adapt to microgravity and other space environments.
The study found that experts did acknowledge that there are still many difficulties in conducting such studies on animals with complex life forms, such as rats and primates.
The Soviet scientists were able to train a few mice to overcome their physical constraints and engage in sexual behavior throughout the entirety of an 18-day space flight, they said, which was accomplished during the Cold War. However, after returning to Earth, none of them gave birth, and there were no signs of pregnancy.
According to Kehkooi Kee, a professor at Tsinghua University’s department of medicine, the difficulties of conducting a life sciences experiment in space rose exponentially with the size of the animals utilized. “The astronauts will need to feed them and handle the waste,” he added.
According to some earlier ground experiments, the absence of gravity may harm testicles and other reproductive organs, causing test animals’ levels of the sex hormone to decline significantly.
However, Kee said that more nations are planning for long-term habitation in orbit around the Moon or Mars and that “these experiments will be necessary” as a result. More giant animals, notably monkeys, showed more traits in common with humans.