Space Monkeys Finally Survive a Space Flight, Humans Soon to Follow (1959)

Several monkeys were launched into space before 1959, but Able and Miss Baker became the first to survive such a trip—a 16-minute flight aboard a US missile. Able, a rhesus monkey, died just days after the flight while undergoing surgery to remove a medical electrode. Miss Baker, a squirrel monkey, lived to the age of 27 and is buried on the grounds of the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where she spent most of her life. Able was preserved and can now be seen where? More… Discuss

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“Preparation of monkeys and white mice for flight in the Aerobee Missile at Holloman AFB, 1952.” The Aerobee sounding rocket 2nd stage engine was also used in the 2nd stage of the Vanguard launch vehicle.


Public domain film from the National Archives, slightly cropped to remove uneven edges, with the aspect ratio corrected, and mild video noise reduction applied.
The soundtrack was also processed with volume normalization, noise reduction, clipping reduction, and equalization (the resulting sound, though far from perfect, is far less noisy than the original).…

…On June 11, 1948, a V-2 Blossom launched into space from White Sands, New Mexico carrying Albert I, a rhesus monkey. Lack of fanfare and documentation made Albert 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. On August 31, 1948, another V-2 was launched and carried an unanaesthetized mouse that was photographed in flight and survived impact. On December 12, 1949, the last V-2 monkey flight was launched at White Sands. Albert IV, a rhesus monkey attached to monitoring instruments, was the payload. It was a successful flight, with no ill effects on the monkey until impact, when it died. In May 1950, the last of the five Aeromedical Laboratory V-2 launches (known as the Albert Series) carried a mouse that was photographed in flight and survived impact.

On September 20, 1951, a monkey named Yorick and 11 mice were recovered after an Aerobee missile flight of 236,000 feet at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. Yorick got a fair amount of press as the first monkey to live through a space flight.

On May 22, 1952, two Philippine monkeys, Patricia and Mike, were enclosed in an Aerobee nose section at Holloman Air Force Base. Patricia was placed in a seated position and Mike in a prone position to determine differences in the effects of rapid acceleration. Fired 36 miles up at a speed of 2000 mph, these two monkeys were the first primates to reach such a high altitude. Also on this flight were two white mice, Mildred and Albert. They were inside a slowly rotating drum where they could “float” during the period of weightlessness. The section containing the animals was recovered safely from the upper atmosphere by parachute. Patricia died of natural causes about two years later and Mike died in 1967, both at the National Zoological Park in Washington, DC.

The Aerobee rocket was a small (8 m) unguided suborbital sounding rocket used for high atmospheric and cosmic radiation research in the United States in the 1950s.

It was built by Aerojet General. The company began work in 1946 and test fired the first complete Aerobee from the White Sands Proving Grounds in New Mexico on 1947-11-24. It reached an altitude of 34.7 miles (55.8 km).

The rocket was two stage with a solid-fuel boost and a nitric acid/aniline sustainer. The rockets could reach around 230 km (a later variant exceeded 400 km). Instrumentation usually provided constant telemetry and was recovered by parachute. For accurate pointing special gimbal mounts were developed…

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