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Public Radio's Environmental News Magazine (follow us on Google News)

The Living On Earth Almanac

Air Date: Week of

Facts about... BioSatellite 2.


CURWOOD: Thirty years ago this week, the US launched a small capsule into orbit around the Earth. Nothing unusual about that, except for the payload: 64 wildflowers, 120 frog eggs, 560 wasps, 10,000 gnats, and more than 10 million bread mold spores--all in an attempt to determine the effects of weightlessness on living organisms. Called the BioSatellite 2, the capsule also contained 13 scientific experiments to study the effect of radiation in space. It was the first successful mission of its kind. BioSatellite 1 blasted off 9 months earlier, had rocket trouble, and was lost. Since that trip, 9 BioSatellites have been launched. Many of them have carried rhesus monkeys. The monkeys come back alive, but are then often dissected in labs by scientists who say the results have helped prepare humans for space flight. Animal rights groups have long protested the use of monkeys in space travel research. The next BioSatellite mission, number 12, is slated for 1998. And for this week, that's the Living on Earth Almanac.



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