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10 Animals That Have Been In Space

10 Animals That Have Been In Space

In 1961 , the Russian Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into space . However, several animals preceded him. Since the 1950s, both the Russians and the Americans sent monkeys and dogs into space to investigate the effect of the high temperatures and rapid pressure changes. Even after 1961, many animals have made a space journey. Fortunately, most of these furry astronauts landed safely on their four (or eight) legs. Here you will meet ten of them!

1. Laika (dog) in 1957

Laika (Russian for “barker”) started life as a mutt, but eventually became the first animal ever to complete a space tour. At least, the spaceship she was in successfully completed the trip, Laika herself died a few hours after the rocket took off. Laika, believed to be a mix between a husky and a terrier, died from the high temperatures and stress. She could not call herself the first animal in space, because in 1947 several fruit flies preceded her.

2. Gordo (squirrel monkey) in 1958

About a year after Laika’s space journey, the Americans sent the squirrel monkey Gordo into space. Squirrel monkeys have a similar anatomy to humans. NASA was therefore very curious how Gordo would react to the high temperatures and weightlessness. Dressed in a custom spacesuit, the monkey successfully withstood the launch of the rocket. However, the landing went wrong. Due to a technical error, Gordo’s parachute did not open and the monkey crashed down to earth together with the rocket.

3. Able (rhesus monkey) and Miss Baker (squirrel monkey) in 1959

Just months after Gordo, NASA also sent the rhesus monkey Able and the squirrel monkey Miss Baker on a space journey. Both monkeys were equipped with spacesuits and the necessary measuring equipment, so that the health of the animals could be monitored during the journey. In good health, the monkeys withstood a top speed of 16,000 km/h and a nine-minute weightlessness. For example, Able and Miss Baker were the first mammals ever to survive a space trip, although Able died of an infection shortly after landing.

4. Belka and Strelka (dogs) in 1960

After Laika, in 1960 it was the turn of Belka (Russian for ‘squirrel’) and Strelka (Russian for ‘arrow’) to make a trip around the earth. Belka and Strelka successfully completed the journey within one day, after which they landed safely back on Earth. The two dogs subsequently became world stars and served as inspiration for various works of art, including the 2010 Russian animated film Belka and Strelka: Space Dogs.

5. Ham (chimpanzee) in 1961

The chimpanzee, along with the bonobo, is the most similar to man of all monkey species. It was therefore obvious that after a squirrel monkey and a rhesus monkey in 1961, the Americans also sent a chimpanzee into space. NASA chose the five-year-old male Ham. With Ham, the Americans discovered that monkeys can not only travel as passengers in space, but are also able to perform tasks here. For example, Ham was trained to operate a lever, which the chimpanzee also managed in space. His flight was only 16 minutes, and he survived the landing. He spent his later years at the zoo.

6. Enos (chimpanzee) in 1961

In the same year as Ham, Enos became the second chimpanzee to call herself a space traveler. Enos followed a considerably more intensive training program than Ham prior to his space mission. These extra hours of training were necessary to accustom Enos to prolonged weightlessness and the very heavy G-forces he would be exposed to deep in space. He would make three orbits around the earth. Although the mission had to be aborted earlier than planned (the capsule became too hot), Enos survived the journey without any problems. While the chimpanzee was being prepared for its next space journey in 1962, it sadly died of dysentery.

7. Félicette (cat) in 1963

Only one cat has ever been to space: Félicette. Originally, the French had in mind the cat Félix as a spaceman, but on the day of the launch the four-legged friend managed to escape. Félicette took his place, returning safely to Earth fifteen minutes after launch. The black and white cat was subjected to several health tests after the successful landing, including a brain exam. The results of this have always been kept secret, but Félicette is said to have made an important contribution to science.

8. Veterok and Ugolyok (dogs) in 1966

To this day, no dog has made a longer space journey than Veterok (Russian for “breeze”) and Ugolyok (Russian for “coal chunk”). The Russians allowed the dogs to travel through space for no less than 22 days, during which the pair also traveled through the two radiation belts that are around the Earth. For this reason, it is suspected that the purpose of the space mission was to find out the effect of extreme radioactive radiation on animals. However, the Russians still want to neither deny nor confirm this.

9. Two Anonymous Turtles in 1968

In 1968, the Russians sent two four-toed tortoises on a special space journey. The turtles became the first animals to reach the so-called ‘deep space’. Accompanied by, among other things, flies and flour beetles, the tortoises made a space trip around the moon. Returning safe and sound to Earth, the tortoises were found to have lost some weight, but were otherwise in excellent health. Despite this impressive feat, the names of the two turtles have never been made public.

10. Anita and Arabella (spiders) in 1973

More than ten years after Ham , the Americans sent Anita and Arabella into space . These astronauts left without training, but the spiders didn’t need them. NASA was only curious if they could spin a web without gravity. Both Anita and Arabella succeeded wonderfully in this, although their webs were thinner than the specimens they manufactured on Earth. Unfortunately, neither spider survived the space journey. Presumably, both Anita and Arabella dehydration proved fatal.

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