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IN PIX: Animals that wore a SPACESUIT

September 20, 2013 08:49 IST

IN PIX: Animals that wore a SPACESUIT

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Iran's state news agency has announced that it wants a Persian cat to be its next astronaut. The feline creature could be a front-runner for a space mission as early as in March 2014. The long-haired breed has a round face and shortened muzzle. Its name refers to Persia, the former name of Iran.

Iran said it hopes to send a human to space by 2018.

Iranian space officials had earlier claimed to have successfully launched a monkey into space but it remains disputed.

IRNA news agency quoted space official Mohammad Ebrahimi saying that a mouse and a rabbit are also under consideration for upcoming flights.

Before humans actually went into space, considering the perils of space flight, American and Russian scientists used animals to test the ability to launch a living organism into space and bring it back alive. Mainly, monkeys, chimps and dogs were part of the test.

Take a look at some of the animals that went where no human had ever gone before.

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Image: A still image from an undated video footage released by Iran's state-run English language Press TV shows a monkey that was launched into space.
Photographs: Reuters

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IN PIX: Animals that wore a SPACESUIT

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The first living beings shot into space were fruit flies in 1947 but on June 11, 1948, a V-2 Blossom launched into space from White Sands, New Mexico carrying Albert I, a rhesus monkey -- an unsung hero of animal astronauts.

On June 14, 1949, a second V-2 flight carrying a live Air Force Aeromedical Laboratory monkey, Albert II, attained an altitude of 83 miles. The monkey died on impact.

Alberts III, IV, and V also died on impact or during flight.

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Image: Albert II in preparation for his historic flight.
Photographs: Courtesy: NASA

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IN PIX: Animals that wore a SPACESUIT

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The Soviets kept a close tab on what the US was doing. They needed to gather data to design a cabin to carry a human being into space and eventually chose small dogs for testing.

Dogs were chosen over monkeys because it was felt that they would be less fidgety in flight.

On November 3, 1957, Sputnik 2 blasted into Earth orbit with a dog named Laika aboard.

There was no time to work out any reentry strategy and Laika expired after a few hours. Sputnik 2 finally burned up in the outer atmosphere in April 1958.

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Image: In 1957, Laika in her flight harness.
Photographs: Wikipedia

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IN PIX: Animals that wore a SPACESUIT

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On January 31, 1961, Ham, became the first chimpanzee in space, aboard the Mercury Redstone rocket.

Ham performed well during his flight and splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean 60 miles from the recovery ship. He experienced a total of 6.6 minutes of weightlessness during a 16.5-minute flight.

Ham's mission paved the way for the successful launch of America's first human astronaut, Alan B Shepard, Jr., on May 5, 1961.

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Image: Chimpanzee 'Ham' in space suit is fitted into the biopack couch of the Mercury-Redstone 2 capsule prior to its test flight which was conducted on January 31, 1961.
Photographs: Coutesy: NASA

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IN PIX: Animals that wore a SPACESUIT

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Able, an American-born rhesus monkey, and Baker, a South American squirrel monkey, were catapulted to space on May 28, 1959, aboard an Army Jupiter missile.

The two animals were carried to a 300-mile altitude, and both were recovered unharmed. 

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Image: Squirrel monkey 'Baker' rode a Jupiter IRBM into space and back in 1959.
Photographs: Coutesy: US federal government

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IN PIX: Animals that wore a SPACESUIT

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Able died June 1 on the operating table from effects of anesthesia, as doctors were about to remove an electrode from under her skin. Baker died of kidney failure in 1984 at age 27.

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Image: Display of Able and her couch at the National Air and Space Museum
Photographs: Wikipedia

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IN PIX: Animals that wore a SPACESUIT

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Enos became the first chimp to orbit the earth on November 29, 1961, aboard a Mercury Atlas rocket.

Enos died at Holloman Air Force Base of a non-space related case of dysentery 11 months after his flight.

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Image: Enos the space chimp is wearing a space suit and lying in his flight couch while being prepared for insertion into the en:Mercury-Atlas 5 capsule in 1961
Photographs: Wikipedia

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IN PIX: Animals that wore a SPACESUIT

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Sam, a rhesus monkey, was one of the most well known monkeys of the space program. His name was an acronym for the US Air Force School of Aviation Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas.

He was launched on December 4, 1959, housed in a cylindrical capsule within the Mercury spacecraft atop a Little Joe rocket in order to test the launch escape system.

Approximately one minute into the flight, travelling at a speed of 3,685 mph, the Mercury capsule aborted from the Little Joe launch vehicle. After attaining an altitude of 51 miles, the spacecraft landed safely in the Atlantic Ocean.

Sam was recovered, several hours later, with no ill effects from his journey. He was later returned to the colony in which he trained, where he died in November 1982 and his remains were cremated.

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Image: A rhesus monkey named Sam, is seen encased in a model of the Mercury fiberglass contour couch.
Photographs: Courtesy: NASA

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IN PIX: Animals that wore a SPACESUIT

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In the Soviet Union, the dogs Veterok and Ugoyok were launched aboard Kosmos 110 by the Soviet Union on February 22, 1966.

Twenty-one days in space still stand as a canine record and was only surpassed by humans in June 1974 with the flight of Skylab 2.

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Image: Veterok and Ugolyok USSR stamp
Photographs: Wikipedia

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IN PIX: Animals that wore a SPACESUIT

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On October 18, 1963, French scientists launched the first cat into space on a Veronique AGI sounding rocket No. 47. The cat, named Felix, was successfully retrieved after a parachute descent, but a second feline flight on October 24 ran into difficulties that prevented recovery.



Tags: Felix , AGI

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