Tuesday, Dec 22nd, 2009
Although the ape will be looked after by a robot on the mission, the decision is expected to spark controversy with animal rights groups.
The Russians first succeeded in putting monkeys into orbit in 1983.
“We have plans to return to space,” said Zurab Mikvabia, director of the Institute of Experimental Pathology and Therapy in Georgia which supplied apes for the programme in the 1980s.
The Institute is in preliminary talks with Russia’s Cosmonautics Academy about preparing monkeys for a simulated Mars mission that could lay the groundwork for sending an ape to the Red Planet, he said.