Everyone on Earth knows about the accomplishments humans have done to make it into space. But little is known about the animals that reached the stars before them. Over the past 50 years, both American and Russian Scientists had used animals as test subjects. Without these tests, the earliest space programs could’ve suffered great losses in human life.
The first recorded recorded animal in space was a rhesus monkey by the name of Albert I, who was launched June 11, 1948, who was one of the first of the Albert to test the effects of space on living beings. Unfortunately, none of them received much fame due to dying during their flights.
On May 20, 1952, two more monkeys where launched to test the weightlessness of space, they were fortunate enough to survive.
Meanwhile, the Soviets, who had been keeping a close eye on the US experiments have been doing tests of their own, only instead of monkey’s the Soviets used dogs. On August 15, 1951, the Soviets put the first canines, Dezik and Tsygan, into space. Unfourtunately, these were some of the few dogs to survive a successful launch and land still alive. But one of the most known Russian Canine Cosmonaut was a dog named Laika, blasting off in Sputnik 2 on November 3rd, 1957, and much like the previous dogs, died on while in flight and Sputnik 2 burned up in the outer atmosphere in April of 1958.
On January 21, 1961, Nasa sent the first chimpanzee, Ham, into space where during his flight spent a total of 6.6 minutes of weightlessness. And other than being dehydrated and fatigued, Ham suffered little injury. Later the year in November, another chimp named Enos was launched into space with the mission of orbiting the earth, which was successful and Enos landed in good condition.
Back in the SU, dogs Veterok and Ugoyok were launched in February 1966 to evaluate the prolonged effects of space travel of radiation for 22 days.
After the manned lunar landing of Apollo 11, the role for animals was limited to “biological payload,’ yet some species were still used to study the long term effects of space travel.