Whenever we hear the words animals in space, one thing that comes in mind is about Laika, the dog. Laika was sent to the space by Russia, but it was not the first living creature sent to the space. Several successful and unsuccessful attempts had been already carried out since the post-world war II.
After the end of the Second World War, there existed a space race between U.S.A. and Russia. This led to many space tech advancements and various experiments with unmanned, manned and missions including animals and plants.
WHY ANIMALS WERE SENT TO SPACE?
We all know several products, medicinal drugs are being tested on vertebrate creatures like mice, monkeys, rabbits, etc., before they are available to humans.
This is done to examine the physical effects and causes in the biological environment and then later assured whether they are fail-safe for humans or not.
Similarly, Animals were sent to space to examine their endurance on space flights, effect of radiations above ionosphere and study of support of life in space!
Here’s a list several living creatures sent to space:
The first ever animals sent in space were fruit flies by U.S. V-2 missions in 1947 to study the effects of radiation exposure at extreme heights and all of the flies were recovered alive.
Even Russia sent Fruit flies in the year 1960 in the Sputnik V mission which had 15 flasks of flies, several other animals were also sent through this mission.
Monkeys of several species were flown into space including the chimpanzees.
Albert missions by U.S. which launched V-2 rockets consisted of four missions. First mission was with a monkey named Albert I which was a failure and couldn’t make it to the space. But Albert II a rhesus monkey was the first monkey to reach the space.
Later Albert III and Albert IV monkeys were launched but lead to rocket failures. In all these Albert missions started in 1949, unfortunately no monkey made it alive.
In May 1959 monkeys named Able and Baker became the first monkeys to make a successful spaceflight and return alive.
Ham and Enos were the two chimpanzees to orbit Mercury and are successfully surviving the space flights.
Soviet Union or Russia launched several dogs in space in 1950’s. All of them were stray dogs as they could handle extreme cold and found capable to handle the same at high altitudes.
Laika the Dog was first animal to be sent into the complete orbit of Earth but died in the spaceflight due to stress and heat in the year 1957.
Dogs named Tsygan and Dezik had also been sent to space in 1951 before the Laika. They were not sent into the orbit. The Dogs Belka and Strelka were the first dogs to return alive from the orbit.
Before the successful manned mission of USSR’S Yuri Gagarin in 1961, more than 10 dogs into the space were sent.
The first moon landing in 1969 by Neil Armstrong in the Apollo X1 mission gathered a lot of attention. Thus ending attention to Space flights including Animals.
Together U.S.A., Russia, France, China, Japan have sent several animals and creatures like Dogs, Monkeys, Cats, Rabbits, Mice, Rats, Frogs, Spiders, Tortoises, Flies, Worms, Bees, Ants and Fish. Several types of Plants were also included in various space missions.