Russia’s space agency Roscosmos has announced that it will send a team of trained monkeys to Mars in 2017 and send a crew comprised exclusively of women to the Moon in 2029.
Roscosmos recently informed the public about a new partnership with the European Space Agency, with plans to send a lunar to the south pole of the moon by 2020.
However, the plan that attracted more publicity was the country’s goal of sending trained rhesus monkeys to Mars by 2017. Currently, the country is training monkeys at the Institute of Biomedical Problems in Moscow. The monkeys are learning how to operate controls and perform basic mathematics.
Lead monkey trainer Inessa Kozovskaya explained, “What we are trying to do is to make them as intelligent as possible so we can use them to explore space beyond our orbit.”
According to Kozlovskaya, the monkeys will need to use their wits in order to survive the six month trip to Mars. Rhesus monkeys were chosen for this mission, as they are known for living up to 25 years in age and being highly intelligent when it comes to monkeys. If the mission is a success, more space monkeys will likely be used on future missions.
Animals have long been used to test space flights. Other animals sent to space include fruit flies, mice and dogs. The first monkey to travel to space was named Albert II, who traveled in an American rocket in June of 1949. He survived to make it to space, but he died on the return trip when his parachute failed. Ten years later, two monkeys survived an entire space trip.
Meanwhile, six Russian women are spending a week locked inside of a pseudo spaceship in order to prepare for the all-female Moon mission of 2029. More preparations are to be made in the coming years.
Another similar test performed in 2010 involved six males spending 520 days in a Russian capsule that is much like one that might be sent to Mars. That test was successful, but the Russians have had failures in the past.
In 2000, a mixed-gender experiment failed after two aspiring male astronauts quarreled over a female colleague.
Valentina Tereshkova was the first woman to travel through space.