Primate Flight Capsule

Before humans were sent into space, animals were used! The Russians sent Laika, a stray dog, up in 1957, but the United States decided to use chimpanzees since they are physically similar to humans and could be trained to perform basic tasks, such as moving levers in response to flashing lights. These tasks were studied to see if space flight had any effect on the performance. The first chimpanzee to go into space was Ham, who flew on a Mercury Redstone rocket in 1961. The flight lasted for 16.5 minutes, and he came down to Earth slightly fatigued and dehydrated, as well as highly annoyed with everyone that surrounded him on landing (there are some reports of him slapping people!). However, he was in good health, so the United States started sending humans up instead. We do not know which chimpanzee was in our particular capsule or which flight it was on, as the capsules were not serialized. However, this has gone up to space and was a vital part of the United States space program.

San Diego Air & Space Museum

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