Astronomy and Space Travel Animals in Space Part 1

About the use of animals in space travel testing, names, species, crafts, the nations that sent them and the effects.


Date: 1948

Name: Albert

Species: Male rhesus monkey (9 lb.)

Spacecraft: V-2 rocket

Nation: U.S.

The results of this Air Force test were disappointing. The monkey died aloft.

Date: 1949-1959

Name: None

Species: Dogs, rabbits, cats

Spacecraft: V-2A and V-5V rockets

Nation: U.S.S.R.

Thirty-nine firings during this period involved dogs. The animals experienced up to 5 g's (five times their own weight) at lift-off and were weightless for a few minutes at a time during the flights. A few dogs were anesthetized and those, reacting mechanically and without fear, gave some psychological insight into space travel by showing little or no increase in heartbeat and respiratory rate. The dogs wore space suits, essential in the nonhermetically sealed chambers.

Date: 1951

Name: None

Species: 1 monkey, 11 mice

Spacecraft: Aerobee rocket

Nation: U.S.

The animalnauts died at 236,000 ft.

Date: 1952

Name: Pat and Mike

Species: Rhesus monkeys

Spacecraft: Aerobee 3 rocket

Nation: U.S.

The monkey's rocket reached an altitude of 36 mi., making them the first animalnauts to enter--and die in--the upper atmosphere.

Date: Nov. 3, 1957

Name: Kudryavka (known as Laika)

Species: Female Samoyed husky (11 lb.)

Spacecraft: Sputnik 2 satellite

Nation: U.S.S.R.

Laika was the first animal ever put into orbit around the earth. She was conditioned for many months before flight. Traveling in a cylindrical chamber which was maintained at room temperature and supplied with fresh air, she was fed a nutritional paste, was confined with metal straps, and was covered with electrodes which monitored her pulse, respiration, and body movements. The purpose of the flight was to study life support systems and the effects of prolonged weightlessness (scientists feared muscular atrophy, confusion of the inner ear, blood pressure complications, and eating and drinking difficulties). Laika adapted well and experienced no apparent ill effects from weightlessness. The "reentry problem" had not yet been solved, and no provisions were made to return Laika to Earth. She died after 10 days, when her oxygen ran out. Her animalnaut record altitude of 1,050 mi. was surpassed a year later when U.S. mice Laska and Benjy reached a height of 1,400 mi. Although the nose cone containing the mice was not recovered, it is believed that they survived reentry.

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