Non-Human Astronauts: 10 First Animal Astronauts That Went To Space


Before some of the famous astronauts, many animal astronauts had been sent to space as part of the test. The animals that went to space are the common animals that we all know in our daily lives. The purpose of sending them is to test the survivability of spaceflight, and these animal astronauts are heroes indeed. Before Neil Armstrong and the other famous astronauts, here we have some of the brave animals that paved the way for them. Take a look at the list of animal astronauts that went to space below, and feel free to share your thoughts.


When: 1948

There has been a great number of monkeys that have gone to space, but none flew more than once. The very first primate astronaut was Albert, but he died due to suffocation during the flight. The second monkey sent was Albert II, he survived the flight but died later after a parachute failure. There were different species of monkeys that have been sent to spaces such as rhesus macaque, pig-tailed monkey, chimpanzee, and more. Ham was the first chimp to have entered space which was in 1961.

In the same year, Enos was the first chimp to have orbited around the Earth. All of the primates were anesthetized during their missions along with implants, sensors, and cameras. The equipment allowed the scientists to study the effect of weightlessness and radiation at high altitudes on living creatures. Thanks to their sacrifice, we are now able to study beings outside the Earth.


When: 1957

Traveled on Sputnik 2, Laika was the most well-known dog to fly into space. Laika was a stray mongrel puppy in Moscow, and she was perfect for the mission because of her gentle temperament. Laika was also the first animal to orbit the Earth though she did not make it back alive. She went into space with just one meal and a seven-day oxygen supply. The Soviet government claimed she survived for seven days. As a matter of fact, she died after five hours due to overheating and stress during the flight.


When: 1950s

Since the 1950s, there had been several attempts to successfully send mice into space and recover them. It all began in 1950 when a mouse was placed on board the 5th flight of the Albert series of V2. It was unsuccessful due to the breakdown of the parachute recovery system at that time. The next attempt was in the following year when the US Aerobee missile took flight with 11 mice. There was also another named Mouse In Able where the US sent 3 mice into the sky, and all of them died; unfortunately. People say there is no success without failure, and the attempt finally succeed 11 years later. In 1961, the French space center sent a rat name Hector to space and he successfully returned. Hector was the first rat to have visited space and come back safely.


When: 1959

It all began in 1959, but the most significant frog flight was in 1970 when Nasa launched the Orbiting Frog Otolith spacecraft. The spacecraft contained two bullfrogs with the aim to investigate the effect of space travel on motion sickness. The scientists implanted electrodes into the frogs’ thoraxes and the vestibular system within their ears. Those electrodes recorded data on the effects of sustained weightlessness to find out how the frogs adapt to it. The program was a success since the researchers had collected the right amount of data. Sadly, the poor frogs were never recovered although they helped a lot in the process.

5Guinea Pig

When: 1961

On 9th March of 1961, the first guinea pig successfully entered space on the Soviet Sputnik 9 spacecraft. He even parachuted back safely to earth in G-Force style as well, such a proud moment. Success continued even thirty years later in 1990, China also launched a trip of other guinea pigs into space as well. Everyone returned home safely, and it was one of the most successful moments for animal astronauts.


image: Max Pixel

When: 1963

While the U.S and the Soviet kept on sending animals into space, the French was kind of far behind. However, they decided to send Felicette, the first cat to go to space in the October of 1963. Felix went off in the Veronique AGI rocket, and she returned back to earth safely. She was one of the 14 female cats trained for spaceflight, and she did a great job. Before launching, the scientists implanted electrodes into her skull so that they could monitor her neurological activity. The researchers were able to record high-quality date throughout her flight although she experienced some difficulties.

7Turtle & Tortoise

image: NASA

When: 1968

These ancient shelled animals were one of the most famous animal astronauts to enter space. Back in 1968, the Soviets sent two turtles with the objective of sending them far into deep space. Zond 5 was their spacecraft, and it made a loop around the moon before returning to earth safely with the turtles. The turtles only suffered a slight weight loss after six days of a circuit around the moon, and they were fine. Six years later in 1974, the Soviets then sent more tortoises into space with a longer duration of 90 days. Everyone came back safely, and it was the record for the highest duration spent by any animal in space.


When: 1973

The first fish to reach space was a type of minnow lived in salt marshes known as the Mummichog. This aquanaut did not go there alone because 50 eggs accompanied it along the way. During that time, Nasa was keen on observing the effects of microgravity on animals that moved three-dimensionally on Earth. This research has brought scientists to one conclusion, fish is just like humans in space. Our astronauts suffered from space sickness, and the aquanauts swam in loops rather than straight lines. Yet both of them got their bearings after a few days. Fish was very helpful back then, and that was why the Japanese space agency sent them up again in 2012. Just like the previous one, this one was also a success in terms of findings and new outcomes.


When: 1973

Two adorable garden spiders named Anita and Arabella were the first spiders to invade space in Skylab 3 space mission. The purpose was to see if they could still spin webs in space, and heck yes they did. Both of them managed to spin webs, and their webs were slightly finer than on Earth though they took longer. Unfortunately, both of our arachnids died because of dehydration as a result of the experiment. You can find their bodies on display at the Smithsonian actually, they were the heroines of the spider kingdom.


When: 1985

The Bion 7 was the space mission that launched newts along with two monkeys on board into space. The purpose was to study how their bodies would react to injuries in space, so something cruel was done. The scientists cut off the front limbs and removed part of the newts’ lenses before putting them on board. Probably an inhuman thing to do, but the finding was actually interesting. In space, scientists observed a significant phenomenon the newts were able to generate their limbs faster. That was an incredible result, and the newts all came back home safely.

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