The first two monkeys to travel in space with astronauts have reacted about the way humans do when they venture into weightlessness: They got spacesick.
"We can tell by the way he's behaving that one of our monkeys is not feeling well," Dr. Paul X. Callahan of NASA's Ames Research Center said in a telephone interview today from Johnson Space Center in Houston.
"The other monkey was under the weather his first day in space but he's adapted very well since, which is an almost identical reaction we get from human astronauts."
Callahan said the small, white-faced squirrel monkey the crew members call "Monkey No. 1" is not eating and drinking normally, seems to have a headache and is generally lethargic and dispirited.
"There are no signs that either of the two monkeys have thrown up," Callahan said, "but there's no question one of them is slower than the other to adapt to the weightless state. He's just not moving around and the other monkey has begun to do somersaults."
Astronaut William E. Thornton, the physician who is serving as handler of the two monkeys and two dozen white rats aboard the $1 billion Spacelab, took television viewers today on a tour of its "animal-handling facilities."
"This is the first time there's been a large number of animals living together with men in space but I'm sure it's not the last," he said. "Wherever man goes, I'm sure he's going to take his animal friends with him and I wouldn't be surprised to see the day when we have pets in space."
Though it was hard to see their tiny faces, one monkey seemed to keep still most of the time and simply stared out at Thornton, while the other cavorted a bit, floating sideways and doing a somersault.
Callahan said that the rats were adjusting to weightlessness much better than the monkeys but that "we knew that before from previous flights of rats. They're all behaving very friendly, doing cartwheels and having a great time."
Of the 24 rats aboard Spacelab, Callahan said only two were not eating and drinking as much as they should. He said the problem might lie more with their food bars and water sticks than with illness.
Of the 15 experiments aboard Spacelab, 11 are "up and running just fine, even better than we expected," Mission Scientist George Fichtl said. "One is a hit-and-miss kind of thing and three look very doubtful." Fichtl said the five scientists running the experiments proposed today to give up on a French-built wide-field camera that was to have been deployed into space through an airlock to make an ultraviolet survey of stars.
Flight Director Gary E. Coen said from the Johnson Space Center that it was doubtful the seven-day mission would be extended to give the crew a chance to work on the camera and the other balky experiments.
Today brought one welcome change in the crew's living conditions. Foul-smelling particles of animal food and feces that had escaped from the cages yesterday were largely cleaned up today, and the cages had been taped to prevent a new deluge.
Callahan said the feces escaped because the cage's airflow system was disturbed by the velocity of one monkey flipping and tumbling, "having the same sort of good time the crew does." The rat food problem was caused by unexpectedly low humidity that caused the food bars to flake, he said.
One principal purpose of flying the squirrels and rats on this mission was to determine if the cages are safe and adequate for future missions. "We're getting a good shakedown," said Mission Manager Joe Cremin.
The shuttle's pilot, Air Force Col. Frederick D. Gregory of Washington, broke his near-complete silence this morning and said: "I can tell you one thing about being up here: I never saw anything like this in the Air Force."