One Small Step...the story of the space chimps
Where is the monkey?
"I think Caroline really cut
us down to size and put us back in our proper position though when
after being introduced she looked up and said 'Where is the monkey'."
John H. Glenn during an address to a joint session of Congress,
Once John Glenn made his historic orbit of the Earth,
and Air Force and NASA had the definitive proof that man could withstand and survive
orbital flight, the space program no longer needed the remaining Chimponauts.
The chimps were quietly reassigned as subjects for "hazardous mission
environments." One such "environment" included experiments in the
development of seatbelts, i.e., the chimps were strapped onto
deceleration sleds, restrained, and then subjected to unimaginable levels
of force to test the strength of various prototypes of belts. Another
hazardous "environment" subjected the chimps to high levels of radiation to
determine exactly how much radiation a human-like being could withstand.
In the 1970s, the Air Force stopped using the chimps in testing and began
to lease them out to biomedical research and testing facilities.
The chimps traveled from one laboratory to the next. In each
new location the chimps had to endure a different series of unimaginable
In June of 1997, the Air Force decided to officially "retire" the remaining
chimponaut colony. They announced that the chimps would be given away
through a public divestiture authorized by Congress. Under the
divestiture, the chimps would be given to either a research facility
or to a sanctuary. The divestiture also included a stipulation instructing the Air
Force to award the chimps to an organization that would best provide
for their care and welfare. The chimps were now
up for bid. Many organizations submitted bids including several
sanctuaries and a few biomedical facilities.
The Air Force, despite the
stipulation, awarded most of the 141 chimps
to Coulston Foundation - a facility that had been investigated and
charged with violations of the Animal Welfare Act and cited for several
negligent chimpanzee deaths. A bid from the Center
for Captive Chimpanzee Care, a sanctuary based in Florida, was rejected.
In 1998, two months after the transfer of chimps to Coulston,
the Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care filed a
lawsuit against the Air Force claiming that the award to Coulston
Foundation violated the Air Force's own divestment criteria. One year
later, the Center for Captive Chimpanzee Care won their lawsuit and
were awarded 21 of the Coulston chimponauts.
Take me to a list of the names and ages of the remaining chimponaut
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