Before Bezos and Branson, there were Baker and Able.
In the early morning hours of May 28, 1959, a Jupiter missile launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, sending Baker and Able—two small monkeys—hurtling across the sky like a shooting star. Over the next 16 minutes, Baker, an 11-ounce squirrel monkey from Peru, and Able, a rhesus monkey born in Independence, Kansas, flew 1,700 miles and reached an altitude of 360 miles above Earth’s surface, higher than the Hubble Space Telescope orbits today.
After several minutes of weightlessness, the monkeys fell back to Earth in the missile’s nose cone, with Baker snug in a canister not much bigger than a large Thermos. The pair experienced forces 38 times stronger than Earth’s gravity during the