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Animals in Space

The first animals deliberately sent into space were some American fruit Flies in1947.

First Primate

The first primate in Space was Albert II in 1949.  Albert was a rhesus monkey.  Unfortunately, his parachute failed and he died.

First Rodent

An American Mouse went into space in 1950.  I think this was the first rodent in space.

In 1951, two Russian dogs went into space. Their names were Tsygan and Dezik.  These early pioneers of space flight did not get into Earth orbit. 

First Orbit

The first animal to make a complete orbit of the Earth was a Russian dog named Laika.  Unfortunately Laika did not survive the flight. 

Many animals died in the early days of space flight.  The first monkeys to survive space flight were American.  They were called Able and Baker.  This was in 1959.

Two dogs went into orbit on the 19th of August 1960.  They not only survived the ordeal, but one of them, Strelka, had puppies. One of these was given as a present by the chairman of the council of ministers of the Soviet Union, Nikita Khruchev to Caroline Kennedy.  This dog’s descendants still exist.

Piloting Spacecraft

Although these animals went into space, they did not have to do much.  It was not really known if it was possible to do normal things in space.  This was important.  A pilot needs to be able to pilot his craft. 

First Higher Primate

To test this, the first Ape was sent up.  On January the 31st 1961, Ham, a four and a half year old Chimpanzee, went up and successfully performed the tasks set.  Ham survived his sub orbital flight and was congratulated with a handshake after landing.  Chimpanzees do not live as long as humans, and when Ham died he was buried in Front of the New Mexico Museum of Space history.

First Rat

A French Rat went up on the 22nd of February 1961.

First Guinea Pig

Guinea Pigs are not famous for their space journeys, but they beat Humans into space by 34 days.  The first space traveling Guinea Pig went into space on March the 9th 1961; the first Human went into space on April the 12th 1961.  Oddly, while Major Yuri Gagarin received a well deserved promotion and was decorated with the title of Hero of the Soviet Union for his achievement, there is no record of similar honours for the first Guinea Pig in space.

First Human

On April the 12th 1961, the heroic cosmonaut, the then Major Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin made his historic orbit of the Earth and was hailed as  a hero on his safe return.

 

Animals continue to play an important role in our extraterrestrial investigations. 

Felix the Cat

On October the 31st 1963, France launched a cat named Felix into space.  Felix returned alive.

Deep Space`

Although both Animals and Humans had survived close to The Earth; they were  protected to some extent by our planet’s magnetic field.  There was still the question of whether we could survive away from this protection.

First Tortoise

One of the first animals to go round the Moon was a Russian Horsfield’s Tortoise on September the 14th 1968.  It was accompanied on its pioneering voyage by Meal Worms and Wine Flies.

First Fish


On April the 16th 1972, Skylab 3 had Killifish.  It also had spiders, and the first spider web was built in space.  This was an important observation because spiders normally make their webs in our planet's gravity.  

First Water-bears

In September 2007, the European Space Agency sent up some Tardigrades. This is a tiny animal also called a water-bear. These hardy animals survived the vacuum of space without protection for ten days.


 

Rhesus Monkey

 
 
Able and Baker were the first monkeys to survive a trip into space. Here they are being introduced to the American press by NASA
 
 
Ham on his triumphal return to the Earth.