Before Yuri Gagarin made history by becoming the first man in space on April 12, 1961, a long succession of non-human astronauts had already been shot through the atmosphere in order to determine if life forms could survive spaceflight. Even after manned space missions became routine procedures, many different animals continued to be used for space experiments. Animal astronauts have been instrumental in helping humans succeed in space.
Let's take a look at top 10 Famous non-human Astronauts in the World:
Laika, the most famous non-human space traveller was not only the first dog to fly into space but was also the first living being to have touched the orbit. She had flown on November 3, 1957 in Sputnik 2 rocket but unfortunately had died after a few hours due to overheating and stress. In was only in the 1960s that technology and human knowledge reached the level where animals could start returning safely to earth.
In 1961 the Ham was regarded as the first chimp to go to the moon, it is not popular for traveling to space missions of any kind but have finally proved a point that Hams also can be a project material for you. In the same year the Ham was appointed to orbit the earth, and till date, this creature happens to be the first chimp to do that, unlike other animals which have been used to get around space on different occasions. Get you a little ham and you would know what it feels like to be in space.
The first one to invade space was two European garden spiders named Anita & Arabella in the 1973 Skylab 3 space mission. What the researches wanted to find out was how spaceflights and weightlessness affected their power of constructing webs. It was observed that the duration of web construction was longer but surprisingly was of finer quality. Unfortunately both Anita & Arabella died owing to dehydration but their bodies are now at display in the Smithsonian.
Look at this lucky cat who was an astronaut, he is referred to as Felix, he is the first cat to be in space. 1963 October, Felix was launched into space in the Veronique AGI rocket. He went and came back in one piece. Who would have believed that this is possible? Well guys here you go, Felix made it to space and back with fear of any kind. Wake up to greater heights and refuse fear.
5. Turtles & Tortoises
The turtles were one of the first animals to have entered space. In 1968, the Soviets sent two turtles in the Zond 5 spacecraft with the intention of sending them to deep space. The Zond 5 made a loop around the moon before returning to earth safely along with the turtles who had only suffered a slight weight loss. Interestingly in 1974 the Soviet sent tortoises into space for 90 days setting a record for the highest duration spend by any animal in space.
In order to accumulate more data on otolith organ, a pair of Mummichog fish was sent in 1973 on the spacecraft called Skylab 3. Used because of their ability to survive extreme conditions, the small aquatic specimens accompanied Skylab 3 in 1973 to provide more information about the otolith organ (inner ear). Many other kinds of fish have also been in space including guppies, zebra danios, carp, swordtails, Japanese killifish, and oyster toadfish, to name but a few.
NASA had sent two bullfrogs in space in 1970 under a programme called the Orbiting Frog Otolith (OFO). This was a research procedure to find out how otolith (which refers to a mechanism that controls equilibrium in the inner ear) would adapt to weightless ambience. The program was a success in terms of the right amount of data that researchers could manage to collect but the poor frogs were never recovered.
Challenger blasted-off in 1984 with more than 3,000 honeybees on board. Astronaut James Van Hoften was onboard that mission and was in charge of carrying out an experiment to determine how honeybees might make honeycomb cells in a micro-gravity environment. The experiment would also compare the shape, size, volume, and wall thickness of honeycombs constructed in orbit to those built by a ground control group. The lack of gravity didn’t affect the insects, who during NASA’s seven-day mission managed to build honeycombs exactly like they do on Earth!
9. Guinea Pig
On March 9, 1961 the first guinea pig successfully invaded the space on the Soviet Sputnik 9 spacecraft along with a bunch of other animals (dog, reptiles & mice). About thirty years later in 1990, China launched a trip for 60 plants and some animals including guinea pigs on the biosatellite FSW-1 3, which had successfully returned home.
On August 31, 1950, the Americans launched a V-2 rocket containing a mouse. Unfortunately, on return, the parachute system failed and the mouse was killed on impact. China and Russia have also sent many of these little creatures into space. The first rat in space came in February of 1961 when France sent a rat named 'Hector' into space. After flying to a height of 93 miles, 'Hector' was successfully recovered.