The first animal that reached space was the fruit flies that were launched by the US abroad that captured german rockets in the first animal in space 1947. The first mammal who reached space was a rhesus monkey named Albert II, who flew after 2 years. With that, in this article, we are going to discuss some animals in space fun facts.
Both the missions that we have stated above were suborbital, as were all the flights for animals for about a decade. The first animal to orbit Earth was Laika, a dog that was launched by the Soviet Union in 1957 and passed away in orbit. The first animals who have orbited the Earth and have landed safely were a host of animals on the Soviet Sputnik 5 mission in 1960 that was led by dogs Belka and Strelka.
In this beginning phase of rocket science, no one had an idea about how a spaceflight looked. Engineers flew animals in space, specifically dogs, chimps, and monkeys to learn about launching and landing living beings safely and for a better understanding of how spaceflight might affect the human bodies.
Since then, animals in space have played an important role in evaluating the impact of microgravity on many biological operations. Astronauts have studied all forms of animals like wasps, butterflies, beetles, mice, flies, worms, fish, spiders, tortoises, rabbits, bees, ants, frogs, crickets, rats, newts, snails, scorpions, urchins, moths, minnows, brine shrimp, jellyfish, guinea pigs, and cockroaches, among many others. If you are wondering how many animals died in space, then there are numerous who have expired in space and also there are many who have landed safely and have lived even after that.
Famous Animals In Space
In the early stages of spaceflight, many animals have reached space. Here are some of the famous animals who have left their mark in the history of space science.
- Gordo, who was a squirrel monkey, was released 600 miles high on December 13, 1958. He expired on splashdown when a flotation device failed.
- Able, a Rhesus monkey, and Baker, who was a squirrel monkey, were released together on May 28, 1959. Baker and Able flew 300 miles high and landed unharmed. However, Able expired during an operation to eliminate an electrode from under her skin. Baker lived until 1984, later died of kidney failure at age 27.
- Ham was a chimpanzee who was trained to do tasks during spaceflight. Ham, named after the Holloman Aerospace Medical Center, became famous after his flight on January 31, 1961. Ham was taught to pull levers to receive banana pellets and avoid electric shocks. He effectively became the first animal to actually communicate with a space vessel rather than simply travel in it.
- On October. 18, 1963, French scientists initiated the first cat into space; Félicette lived her flight and was successfully returned back after a parachute descent.
- Two Russian dogs, Ugolyok and Veterok were launched into space on February 22, 1966. They orbited the Earth for a record-breaking 22 days; that record was not surpassed by humans until 1974.
Animals In Space Research
Even though the early animals in space attained great fame, many other animals have highly contributed to the structure of scientific knowledge regarding life in space. As humans have evolved and become more used to space travel, lesser animals make the front-page news.
Still, the contributions made by them are crucial. Nearly all animal flights have been designed to evaluate the effects of microgravity on the biological operations of creatures from Earth.
Some of the biological operations that have been researched are (to name just a few): brain states, cardiovascular status, behavioral performance, fluid and electrolyte balance, tissue development, metabolic state, and mating in zero gravity. Here are a few instances of specific experiments. Here is an animal in space timeline.
- November 9, 1970: Two bullfrogs were released on a one-way mission to know more about space motion sickness.
- July 28, 1973: Two garden spiders named Anita and Arabella were used to understand how orbiting earth would affect the ability of spiders to spin webs. Arabella successfully spun a fairly symmetric web although the thread thickness differed, which is something that earthbound spiders do not experience.
- July 10, 1985: Ten newts flew on the Bion 7 satellite that was launched by the Soviets. Their front limbs were cut off for studying regeneration in space to better evaluate how humans might recover from space injuries.
- April 17, 1998: Over 2,000 creatures joined in 16 days of neurological testing along with the seven-member human crew of the shuttle Columbia.
Animals In Space: International Space Station
Animals in space remain to be studied presently, specifically on the International Space Station. Some instances of space station experiments are:
- 2014: A student experiment transmitted a colony of ants to the ISS and weighed them to other colonies on Earth. The emphasis was to see how microgravity impacts the shifts of the space ants as they look for food.
- 2016: 12 male mice were sent to the orbiting structure for 30 days so that researchers could see the alterations in the DNA of the animal.
- 2017: Healthy mouse babies developed from mice sperm hosted on the ISS for close to 300 days in 2013-14, implementing that sperm for other breeds could be hosted off-Earth in case of catastrophe.
- 2021: A SpaceX cargo capsule transported research equipment that included bobtail squid to the International Space Station in June 2021. On Earth, these animals host microbes that enable the squid to shine in the dark, as per NASA, making baby squid a helpful framework for evaluating how the microbiome bears conditions in space. The human microbiome is important for processes such as digesting food, and researchers aim to understand how these partnerships are impacted by spaceflight.
The primary journeys into space that involved animals were used for testing survivability and also the potential for taking humans into space. Later, other scientific doubts, like radiation and weightlessness were reviewed.
For instance, worms share with humans similar alterations in the expression of genes that control blood sugar, but as the bygone are more compact and reproduce quickly, it makes it easy for the scientists to study many of them throughout an entire life span, unlike humans. By now, we hope you have understood the impact and contribution of animals in space and how it all went all these days.