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The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) was established in 1958. [1]

Animal testing

NASA does animal testing.

Facility information, progress reports & USDA-APHIS reports

For links to copies of a facility's U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA)-Animal Plant Health Inspection (APHIS) reports, other information and links, see also Facility Reports and Information: NASA, Moffett Field, CA.[2]

USDA AWA reports

As of May 26, 2009, the USDA began posting all inspection reports for animal breeders, dealers, exhibitors, handlers, research facilities and animal carriers by state. See also USDA Animal Welfare Inspection Reports.

Monkey radiation experiments

Interview with Justin Goodman during PETA protest of NASA project to radiate squirrel monkeys - Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum - January 14, 2010

In October of 2009, NASA selected research proposed by Dr. Jack Bergman. Dr. Bergman is a "behavior pharmacologist" at Harvard University Medical School's McLean Hospital. He has done "research studies on the medical strategies for beating drug addiction, including methamphetamines, cocaine and cannabis" on primates for almost 15 years. [3]

Harvard hosts the New England Primate Research Center (NEPRC). NEPRC is part of the National Primate Research Center System (NPRC) of eight regional centers that test and breed primates for laboratories. NEPRC houses over 2,000 primates. In 2004, 600 of these animals were subjected to experiments. Harvard receives 10 mega-grants from the National Institute on Drug Abuse to study the effects of cocaine and heroin on monkeys. Harvard has over 75 publications solely about monkeys exposed to cocaine. Not surprisingly, over 90% of Harvard's primates have at least one self-destructive or abnormal behavior and 20% have seriously self-destructive behavior. [4] See also Harvard University.

On January 14, 2010, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) held a protest and distributing pamphlets outside the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum in opposition to NASA's proposed plans to radiate squirrel monkeys. (right) [5]

Experiments violate federal law

USDA inspectors were called upon to investigate unlawful treatment of squirrel monkeys in NASA-funded radiation experiments after two complaints were filed by the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine (PCRM) on March 10, 2010. Expected violations included solitary caging of primates. Dr. Jack Bergman's proposed experiments to expose primates to harmful radiation at Brookhaven National Laboratory. They were then to be shipped to McLean Hospital near Boston and compelled to perform tasks to test for cognitive impairment. Highly intelligent, social primates would be housed in solitary, steel cages for at least four years and subjected to daily restraint in primate chairs. According to John J. Pippin, MD:

“NASA’s monkey radiation experiments violate scientific principles, common sense, and federal law. According to PCRM "Social housing for nonhuman primates is required under specific conditions applicable to Dr. Bergman’s protocol.”

According to PCRM, one of the many scientific flaws in the proposed monkey experiments is that the monkeys will not be exposed to a true simulation of deep space radiation.[6]

Employee resigns over experiments

Five days after the PETA protest, NASA employee April Evans contacted her managers in order to find out how to file a complaint. However, within days her request for information would pass through Human Resources, NASA's legal department, the Department of Equal Opportunity & Diversity, and back to the legal department, where it would be suddenly halted. No one seemed able to answer her questions or share her frustration. According to Ms. Evan five months later:

"It was pretty clear that there was no due process for filing a complaint about this. If it was sexual abuse or something, that would have gone through, but animal testing, nothing."

On March 15, 2010, Ms. Evans submitted her resignation letter, as she could not "in good conscience work for NASA." Her resignation garnered headlines. One week later, in a letter to Animal Defenders International (ADI), Jean-Jacques Dordain, the acting director general of the European Space Program (ESA) wrote that "there is absolutely no research interest or planning for experiments with primates." NASA administrator Charles F. Bolden responded to the press that NASA's experiments were "very strongly peer-reviewed" and "very humane". In a June 28, 2010 letter to ADI, retired Russian cosmonaut Valentin Lebedev also publicly opposed the tests. Lebedev once held the world record for the longest single spaceflight, along with a fellow cosmonaut. He noted that:

"the existing knowledge received from past experience of long time space flights is quite enough right now to predict their influence on people even regarding radiation issues."

PCRM expressed similar concerns, referring to the tests as "piling bad science on top of bad science." Ms. Evans agreed to a segment with CNN, which was organized by ADI. According to Ms. Evans:

"I've never wanted to make this me against NASA, I love NASA. I just wanted them to show the scientific justification for why they're supporting these tests."[7]

History of 'blatant experimentation'

Jim Bates worked for NASA from 1962 until his retirement in 2004. The program was in its infancy and when Dr. Charles Barnes, a renowned veterinarian, walked into NASA with his "big fat briefcase" and pulled out charts and graphs and images of healthy chimpanzees along with corresponding results from varying dosages of radiation. According to Mr. Bates:

"It kind of made you nauseated. ...But you found out, he's already done this, (the primates are) already dead or gone, so let's see what the studies show."

From 1968 to 1970, Bates served as the co-chairman of the JSC Space Radiation Environment Group. According to Mr. Bates, those were the days of "blatant experimentation."[8]

NASA cancels monkey radiation experiments

In December of 2010, the Brookhaven National Laboratory issued the following statement:

"NASA has informed Brookhaven that a proposal involving primate research at the NASA Space Radiation Laboratory on the Brookhaven Lab site should be removed from consideration for experimental time at the facility."

After scores of protests and over 100,000 letters, phone calls and e-mails from activists and supporters, including various celebrities and members of Congress, NASA quietly canceled the experiments. Dozens of squirrel monkeys were spared from harmful doses of radiation and caged isolation while being subjected to years of behavioral experiments to measure radiation damage. Such damage would likely have included brain damage, cataracts, cancerous tumors, loss of motor control and early death. [9]

NASA had planned to irradiate 30 live squirrel monkeys. According to PCRM, due to the basic anatomical, biological, and physiological differences between squirrel monkeys and humans, these experiments were destined to fail. [10]

See also animal testing, section 6 on vivisection debate.


Former personnel


NASA Headquarters
Washington, DC 20546-0001
(202) 358-0000

Web address:

Articles & sources

SourceWatch articles


  1. NASA History Division, National Aeronautics and Space Administration, November 2009
  2. Facility Reports and Information: NASA, Moffett Field, CA, Stop Animal Exploitation NOW!, accessed February 2011
  3. Chasen Marshall Intelligent Life: When NASA employee April Evans questioned animal experiments, her career fell apart, Houston Press, pg. 1, 2 Oct 6 2010
  4. Harvard University, Ten Worst Laboratories, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, accessed February 2009
  5. Ilana E. Strauss PETA protests NASA plan to radiate monkeys, Scripps Howard Foundation Wire, January 14, 2010
  6. NASA’s Monkey Radiation Experiments Violate Federal Law, Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine, March 10, 2010
  7. Chasen Marshall Intelligent Life: When NASA employee April Evans questioned animal experiments, her career fell apart, Houston Press, pgs. 1, 5, Oct 6 2010
  8. Chasen Marshall Intelligent Life: When NASA employee April Evans questioned animal experiments, her career fell apart, Houston Press, pg. 1, 2 Oct 6 2010
  9. Alisa Mullins NASA Grounds Monkey Radiation Experiments,, December 8, 2010
  10. Noah Gittell NASA Forced to Suspend Cruel Monkey Experiments!, PCRM, December 2010

External articles