This week marks the anniversary of some serious intrepid traveling: NASA successfully launched the first monkeys into space 50 years ago. Two rhesus monkeys named Miss Baker and Able were launched in a Jupiter AM-18 rocket, and National Geographic’s Breaking Orbit blog reports that “they reached to a height of 360 miles (579 kilometers) before plummeting back to Earth to land in the ocean.” Scientists found the heroic “monkeynauts” alive and well and they were immediately taken to Washington for a press conference.
National Geographic News has a fantastic “monkeynaut” slide show documenting their role in the development of space travel, and reports that “although humans have been making space voyages since 1961, animals have continued to play a role in international space tests. In addition to monkeys, animals that have gone into space in the name of science include dogs, cats, fruit flies, rabbits, turtles, spiders, jellyfish, and amoebas.” And now, with the help of Richard Branson, all of us may be able to follow in their path.
My question is, what did the monkeys think of all this? This particular guy looks pretty confused by the whole thing. Got a caption for the photo? Let us know in the comments below.
Photo: Courtesy of NASA
- Nat Geo Expeditions