Posts Tagged ‘Rockets’

Animals in Space: From Research Rockets to the Space Shuttle

April 18, 2008

The animals that paved the way for Neil Armstrong and his cohorts have inspired a fresh take on the ubiquitous lost dog notice. Suzy Freeman-Greene revisits some walkies on the wild side.

One winter’s day, in December 1958, a fluffy squirrel monkey called Gordo was given a helmet and strapped onto a tiny rubber couch. Soon after, he was blasted into space in the nose of an American Jupiter missile. Gordo experienced nine minutes of weightlessness and is thought to have survived his capsule’s re-entry to earth. But the craft landed in the Atlantic Ocean and his body was never found.

Gordo was one of hundreds of animals sent into space from 1949 to 1990. In the name of science, monkeys, dogs, cats, rabbits, mice, rats, frogs, worms, fish, tortoises and even spiders have journeyed towards the stars. While plenty survived, many others died.

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