When it comes to space exploration, humans are not the only creatures to have traveled beyond our atmosphere. Before humans were allowed into space, animals were used to test out the equipment. In 1948, the first animal sent into the air (but not into space) by way of rocket was a male rhesus monkey named Albert 1. He and another monkey died during the tests. In this article, you will learn more about animals that went into space.
Before animals were sent into space, astronauts and scientists conducted biological experiments. Fruit flies were one of the first living things sent into space. Launched in 1947 with rye and cotton seeds, the flies were aboard a V2 rocket to test the effects of radiation exposure at high altitudes. The rocket traveled 68 miles in three minutes and 10 seconds, which broke current records at the time. When the Blossom capsule was ejected, a parachute was successfully deployed. The fruit flies were recovered , still alive. Other biological V2 missions included the likes of moss.
In November of 1957, the USSR launched a female Samoyed husky named Laika into orbit, becoming the first animal in orbit. Traveling aboard Sputnik 2, there was no way to bring the dog down and she died 10 days after her launch into space. The first successful orbit of dogs took place in August 1960 when two female huskies named Belka and Strelka was sent into space. Strelka later gave birth to puppies , one of which was given to John F. Kennedy, who was President of the United States at the time.
Cat in Space
In October of 1963, a cat named Felix was trained to travel aboard a French rocket into space. Right before he was to embark on his mission, Felix ran off and was replaced with a female cat named Felicette. Blasting off in a special capsule on top of a French VÃƒÂ©ronique AG1 rocket, the cat departed from the Colomb Bacar rocket base at Hammaguir , right in the Algerian Sahara desert. She did not go into orbit but travelled nearly 100 miles into space where the capsule separated from the rocket. She returned safely to Earth by way of parachute.
China and Japan
During the 1990s, China and Japan sent their first animals into space. In 1990, China launched guinea pigs. This was not the first time that guinea pigs had made their way into space. The USSR sent the creatures into space in 1961along with mice and frogs. In 1995, Japan sent a species of newt into space aboard the Space Flyer Unit, marking the first time they launched animals. The Space Flyer Unit was equipped with equipment that would allow scientists to test the results of egg hatching within deep space.