Astronomy and Space


What were the first monkeys and chimpanzees in space?

On a United States Jupiter flight on December 12, 1958, a squirrel monkey named Old Reliable was sent into space, but not into orbit. The monkey drowned during recovery.

On another Jupiter flight, on May 28, 1959, two female monkeys were sent 300 miles (482.7 kilometers) high. Able was a 6-pound (2.7-kilogram) rhesus monkey and Baker was an 11-ounce (0.3-kilogram) squirrel monkey. Both were recovered alive.

A chimpanzee named Ham was used on a Mercury flight on January 31, 1961. Ham was launched to a height of 157 miles (253 kilometers) into space but did not go into orbit. His capsule reached a maximum speed of 5,857 miles (9,426 kilometers) per hour and landed 422 miles (679 kilometers) downrange in the Atlantic Ocean, where he was recovered unharmed.

On November 29, 1961, the United States placed a chimpanzee named Enos into orbit and recovered him alive after two complete orbits around Earth. Like the Soviets, who usually used dogs, the United States had to obtain information on the effects of space flight on living beings before they could actually launch a human into space.


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