Should the space station be an ark? Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • This essay explores the pros and cons of maximizing the number of species that can be maintained on the Space Station. It reviews some of the history of comparative space biology to show that different cultures have different perspectives on the study of non-traditional research organisms (ie non-rodents) in space. Despite these differences, there are simple principles that all international partners in the Space Station endeavour should be able to uphold when deciding what facilities to build and what species to fly. As an argument for maximizing the taxonomic diversity on the Space Station, examples are given to show how very similar organisms may have different reactions to microgravity. At the same time the political pressure in the USA to make the Space Station an institution specifically servicing the 'health, well-being and economic benefits of people on earth', is acknowledged. Ultimately the justification for what species will be on the Space Station should rest with the quality of the scientific questions being asked.

publication date

  • August 1994