NASA's Costly Bion Program
It's time to retire it

by David Lee Winston Miller

As a former NASA employee and an individual who has closely followed both the space program and animal research issues, I am deeply troubled by the space agency's endless Bion Program. I feel that this is yet another example of the aimless drift we continue to see in the space program.

According to NASA:

According to the Animal Protection Institute (API):

The Bion Program is wrong-headed on many levels:

Can we learn everything we wish to learn without funding the Bion Program? This is an open question--anyone who claims that we can't is simply being unscientific--I know of no scientific question that is approachable by only one set of experiments. (Although I'm sure that there are cases in which, so far, only one way is known.) More importantly, the question (given at the beginning of this paragraph) can be asked of any program. But there are many nonessential things we just don't get to learn, for now, because we don't have the money--it's a question of priorities.

Suppose we were to accept the present misguided emphasis on human space travel. The bottom line is that the Bion Program obviously costs a lot of money, is too large in scope, overlaps a lot of other programs (at least to a substantial, if not great, degree), has ethical problems and is not essential (because of overlap and because of present knowledge). At the same time, research with greater potential--even essential research--is being ignored (inside and outside of the space agency). We should concentrate a lot more on the possible ill effects of solid-rocket boosters (they are still an problem) and other safety issues than the effects of weightlessness. Choices must be made--the Bion Program is a poor one.

And, for those of us who don't accept the present emphasis on human space travel, the Bion Program becomes an even clearer poor choice of expenditures.

Write your representative at: U.S. House of Representatives, Washington, DC 20515. You can contact your senator at: U.S. Senate, Washington, DC 20510 (or call the Capitol Hill switchboard number, 202-224-3121. Better yet, click here for your senators and representative.) As a popular news show says, it's your money.

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Copyright 1996, David Lee Winston Miller. This document may be reproduced in any form provided that it is reproduced in its entirety and is properly credited. This page has been accessed  times since 11-07-96.