From dogs, cats, and chimpanzees, these animals have achieved greater things in their lives, going beyond the Earth’s atmosphere. These animals are some of the earliest human attempts to test the safety of their space travel technology. Without these animals, we would never know how space could affect humans. So, without further ado, here are some animals that have been to space.
The first animal to go to space is not a vertebrae but rather insects. Several fruit flies were sent to space by the US government to test the effect of high altitude radiation exposure. Using a V-2 rocket, the flies were launched on 20 February 1947 from White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. The rocket reached 109 km of altitude, which is beyond the international 100 km definition of the boundary of space.
Fortunately, the capsule containing the flies was safely ejected. So, the fruit flies can be recovered alive.
Albert II is the first monkey, first mammal, and the first primate in space. The rhesus monkey was launched using a V-2 rocket on 14 June 1949 after the original Albert failed to reach space. Albert II successfully reached 134 km altitude. Unfortunately, the monkey died on impact due to a parachute failure.
Several attempts were made by the US government to launch monkeys to space. This test was conducted to understand how space affects mammals and vertebrae. Unfortunately, about two-third of the launched monkeys died during the mission or after the landing.
Laika is probably the most famous dog to ever reach space. After the success of the Tsygan and Dezik mission on 22 July 1951, the Soviet Union experimented on another dog named Laika. Laika was picked straight from the streets of Moscow. Launched aboard the Sputnik 2, Laika became the first dog to orbit the earth.
Despite the success, Laika died during the mission. Her death was intentional as the technology to return safely to earth hasn’t been invented. After the launch of 10 other dogs, the Soviet was able to successfully launch Yuri Gagarin to Space in 1961.
Ham the chimpanzee was the first great ape who reached space. The launch of Ham was initiated to test human’s ability to complete various tasks in space. Ham was trained to pull levers and push buttons, using banana pellets as the reward and electric shock as the punishment. The chimp was launched in a Mercury capsule aboard a Redstone Rocket on 31 January 1961.
His launch was successful as the capsule containing the chimp splashed down the Atlantic Ocean. Upon the recovery, it was revealed that Ham only suffered minor injury in the form of a bruised nose. Three months after Ham’s success, the US successfully launched Alan Shepard to space.
So, those are some of the animals who have reached space. Although some of those animal testings were ethnically vague, all of them were essential to test human’s technology for space travel. Without those animals, we would never know how humans can survive the conditions in space. Due to those tests, we can now travel and explore space safely.