Get out of the way, Miss Piggy, the Chinese are sending pigs to space, for real. Or at least, pig sperm. The researchers say they want to study the effects of cosmic rays and microgravity on pig semen, so they plan to send 40 grams of the stuff up on the next available rocket.
According to China's Xinhua news agency, some of the sperm will be kept outside the space capsule, and some inside. After four or five days in space, the sperm will be returned to Earth where it will used to make test-tube piglets.
The pigs selected for this rare honour are from a breed called Rongchang, named after Rongchang county in the Chongqing municipality. The breed is considered to produce pork of outstanding quality, according to Chinese reports.
It is not known whether scientists expect the cosmically-toasted offspring to be occasionally invisible, burn at the temperature of a supernova, be particularly stretchy or as hard as rock. We have also been unable to confirm reports that Rebecca Loos' services will be called-upon to extract the sample. ®