PETA Blasts Iranian Space Agency’s Shameful Animal Testing

For Immediate Release:
December 7, 2023

Contact:
Tasgola Bruner 202-483-7382

Washington – PETA is calling on the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) today to stop its unconscionable and archaic use of animals in its program, following reports that it just launched a rocket sending live animals into space.

A monkey previously launched into space by the ISA. Credit: PETA

“Animals aren’t tiny astronauts—they’re living beings who feel fear, confusion, and panic just as we do,” says PETA Vice President Shalin Gala. “PETA is calling on the ISA to ground the agency’s cruel animal testing missions for good.”

The ISA has a well-documented history of exploiting animals in scientifically and morally bankrupt space-exploration efforts, including launching into orbit a terrified monkey who was crudely strapped into a restraint device in 2013. The agency has also used monkeys, rodents, turtles, and worms in previous space missions.

PETA—whose motto reads, in part, that “animals are not ours to experiment on”—opposes speciesism, a human-supremacist worldview. For more information, please visit PETA.org, listen to The PETA Podcast, or follow the group on X (formerly Twitter), Facebook, or Instagram.

PETA’s letter to the ISA follows.

December 7, 2023

Hassan Salarieh                 H.E. Amir Saeid Iravani

Administrator                    Ambassador and Permanent Representative

Iranian Space Agency       Permanent Mission of the Islamic Republic of Iran

Dear Dr. Salarieh and Ambassador Iravani:

Thank you in advance for your time. I’m writing to you on behalf of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals—PETA entities have more than 9 million members and supporters worldwide—with regard to a statement made on December 6 by Iranian state media detailing how the Iranian Space Agency (ISA) reportedly sent a rocket-carrying capsule into orbit with animals onboard.[1] Based on the information presented below, PETA urges you to permanently prohibit the use of animals in the Iranian space program, including in flights and in associated research, as many other countries with active space-exploration programs have done.

Also on December 6, the Iranian Republic News Agency (IRNA) posted a video of the launch of Iran’s “first bio-capsule into space,”[2] which international news media reported was carrying animals of unidentified species.[3] This development follows the surfacing of shocking photos in 2013 exposing the ISA’s apparent launch into space of a terrified monkey who was crudely strapped into a restraint device[4],[5]—a plan that our colleagues at PETA U.K. urged the ISA to halt in 2011.[6]

Iran has a long history of using rodents, turtles, worms, and monkeys in space missions.[7] In 2011, the then-head of the ISA, Hamid Fazeli, admitted that “[f]ive monkeys are being tested in order to be able to bear the environmental effects while launching.”[8]

You’ll be interested to learn that in 2010, the very active European Space Agency (ESA)—which represents Austria, Belgium, the Czech Republic, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Ireland, Italy, Luxembourg, the Netherlands, Norway, Portugal, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, and the U.K.—publicly stated that it “declines any interest in monkey research and does not consider any need or use for such results.”[9] Instead, the ESA employs modern technology such as state-of-the-art simulators to assess health risks for astronauts—for example, the ESA uses a manikin, called Mastroshka, to assess radiation risks to astronauts.[10],[11]

Similarly, the U.S. National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) ended its use of primates in space radiation experiments in the early 1990s, following protests by PETA.[12] In 2010, NASA’s plans to restart the program were canceled after PETA, joined by physicians, scientists, lay people, and NASA engineers, successfully voiced strong ethical and scientific objections to the misguided plan,[13] leading NASA to inform Brookhaven National Laboratory 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.”[14]

Other space agencies have gone further to end the use of all animals in their research. For example, in 2022, KEKA Aerospace—a private space agency in the Democratic Republic of the Congo—publicly confirmed that a rat, named Kavira, had died “because of a failure” aboard the firm’s Troposphere 5 rocket and that the company “will never use animals in [its] research again.”[15],[16]

We implore Iran not to repeat the same deadly mistakes of space programs using animals in experiments, dating as far back as the 1950s. In the interest of aligning Iran’s space program with the human-relevant science being pursued by the international community, we urge you to ban ISA’s use of animals in experiments and switch to using more effective, ethical, and economical animal-free methods.

Thank you for your consideration of this important issue. I look forward to your response.

Sincerely yours,

Shalin G. Gala

Vice President, International Laboratory Methods

Laboratory Investigations Department

1Motamedi M. Iran launches animals into space as it revives bid for human missions. Al Jazeera. Published December 6, 2023. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/12/6/iran-restarts-sending-bio-capsules-into-space-on-way-to-human-missions

2IRNA News Agency. #Iran successfully launches its first bio-capsule into space. X. Posted December 6, 2023. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://twitter.com/IrnaEnglish/status/1732313874316042419

3AP. Iran says it launched animals into orbit in preparation for human space missions. TIME. Published December 6, 2023. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://time.com/6343265/iran-animal-capsule-space-orbit/

4Dehghan SK. Iran launches a monkey into space—and fires warning about its ambitions. The Guardian. Published January 28, 2013. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jan/28/iran-space-rocket-launch-monkey

5PETA blasts Iran’s 1960s-era space program. PETA.org. Published January 29, 2013. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://www.peta.org/blog/peta-blasts-iran-s-1960s-era-space-program/

6PETA calls on Iran to scrap mission to send monkey into space. PETA.org.UK. Published June 29, 2011. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://www.peta.org.uk/media/news-releases/peta-calls-on-iran-to-scrap-mission-to-send-monkey-into-space/

7Iran to send more living creatures into space soon. Fars News Agency. Published August 1, 2012. Archived from the original on August 26, 2012. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://web.archive.org/web/20120826011759/http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9104252337

8Report: Iran attempted to launch monkey into space fails. Space.com. Published October 12, 2011. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://www.space.com/13270-iran-space-monkey-launch-failure.html

9European space agency sides with monkeys. PETA.org. Published June 11, 2010. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://www.peta.org/blog/european-space-agency-sides-monkeys/

10PETA blasts Iran’s 1960s-era space program.

11PETA calls on Iran to scrap mission to send monkey into space.

12PETA blasts Iran’s 1960s-era space program.

13NASA grounds monkey radiation experiments. PETA.org. Published December 8, 2010. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://www.peta.org/blog/nasa-grounds-monkey-radiation-experiments/

14NASA response to PETA news release. Published December 8, 2010. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://www.bnl.gov/newsroom/news.php?a=111210

15Waldman, E. Victory! Guinea pig spared space flight after PETA steps in. PETA.org. Published August 6, 2023. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://www.peta.org/blog/troposphere-rocket-guinea-pig-space-experiment/

16Keke Aerospace. Kavira will stay safe on earth! X. Published July 25, 2022. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://twitter.com/KekaAerospace/status/1551532293256318979

[1]Motamedi M. Iran launches animals into space as it revives bid for human missions. Al Jazeera. Published December 6, 2023. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2023/12/6/iran-restarts-sending-bio-capsules-into-space-on-way-to-human-missions

[2]IRNA News Agency. #Iran successfully launches its first bio-capsule into space. X. Posted December 6, 2023. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://twitter.com/IrnaEnglish/status/1732313874316042419

[3]AP. Iran says it launched animals into orbit in preparation for human space missions. TIME. Published December 6, 2023. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://time.com/6343265/iran-animal-capsule-space-orbit/

[4]Dehghan SK. Iran launches a monkey into space—and fires warning about its ambitions. The Guardian. Published January 28, 2013. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jan/28/iran-space-rocket-launch-monkey

[5]PETA blasts Iran’s 1960s-era space program. PETA.org. Published January 29, 2013. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://www.peta.org/blog/peta-blasts-iran-s-1960s-era-space-program/

[6]PETA calls on Iran to scrap mission to send monkey into space. PETA.org.UK. Published June 29, 2011. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://www.peta.org.uk/media/news-releases/peta-calls-on-iran-to-scrap-mission-to-send-monkey-into-space/

[7]Iran to send more living creatures into space soon. Fars News Agency. Published August 1, 2012. Archived from the original on August 26, 2012. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://web.archive.org/web/20120826011759/http://english.farsnews.com/newstext.php?nn=9104252337

[8]Report: Iran attempted to launch monkey into space fails. Space.com. Published October 12, 2011. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://www.space.com/13270-iran-space-monkey-launch-failure.html

[9]European space agency sides with monkeys. PETA.org. Published June 11, 2010. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://www.peta.org/blog/european-space-agency-sides-monkeys/

[10]PETA blasts Iran’s 1960s-era space program.

[11]PETA calls on Iran to scrap mission to send monkey into space.

[12]PETA blasts Iran’s 1960s-era space program.

[13]NASA grounds monkey radiation experiments. PETA.org. Published December 8, 2010. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://www.peta.org/blog/nasa-grounds-monkey-radiation-experiments/

[14]NASA response to PETA news release. Published December 8, 2010. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://www.bnl.gov/newsroom/news.php?a=111210

[15]Waldman, E. Victory! Guinea pig spared space flight after PETA steps in. PETA.org. Published August 6, 2023. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://www.peta.org/blog/troposphere-rocket-guinea-pig-space-experiment/

[16]Keke Aerospace. Kavira will stay safe on earth! X. Published July 25, 2022. Accessed December 6, 2023. https://twitter.com/KekaAerospace/status/1551532293256318979

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“Almost all of us grew up eating meat, wearing leather, and going to circuses and zoos. We never considered the impact of these actions on the animals involved. For whatever reason, you are now asking the question: Why should animals have rights?” READ MORE

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