Space Lawyer Defends Women Cosmonauts

It sounded like a particularly unenlightened quote out of the 1950's. But it was 2005, and here was Russian Academy of Sciences' Anatoly Grigoryev causing an international if not interplanetary stink by proclaiming that women will be barred from the first flight to Mars, "[a]fter all, women are fragile and delicate creatures; that is why men should lead the way to distant planets and carry women there in their strong hands." Yes, this is what he told students at the Moscow International University. RIA published the chauvinistic Russian official's quote, which was promptly picked up on NASA Watch (where Keith Cowing called Grigoryev a Neanderthal), and made for some heated talk on blogs and elsewhere.

Over on MSNBC, U.S. space lawyer Arthur Dula jumped right in, telling James Oberg, "Discrimination against women would make his organization, and any organizations whose activities it controls, possibly including the Russian Federal Space Agency, ineligible to contract with or receive funds from the U.S. government or any U.S. government contractor."

The Probe agrees. (And preseumably, the first
woman in space -- and 20 years before Sally Ride -- Russia's own Valentina Tereshkova, would too.)

On a more enlightened note, the Russians announced this week they are preparing to send
50 snails to the International Space Station. Maybe even female snails?

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