Space is mysterious. This gives the explorers, astronauts and scientists more of a reason to be even more curious about it. Different space exploratory missions have been carried out by human kind till date. Each of these missions has brought home astonishing information about the outer space. Have you ever wished to travel through the outer space in a spaceship? Well I am really sorry to tell you that you’re quite a few decades late for that. The reason is that even a number of animals have already been to space!
Let us look at some of the animals which had the honor to fly to the space.
In1947 the first animals to go to the space were fruit flies! Back then the American scientists were trying to explore how cosmic radiations would affect humans. Fruit flies were put into the space because their genes are similar to that of humans. A V-2 ballistic missile was loaded with the fruit flies while it traveled 109 km into the air. When it came back and the capsule with the fruit flies was opened. The scientists surprisingly found no trace of radiations. This is how animals started going to the space.
Monkeys and apes
It is amazing that up till now 32 monkeys have been to the space. The very first monkey that went to the space was a rhesus macaque named as Albert ll. In 1949 Albert ll went into the space covering a distance of 134km. Sadly, he died while coming back to the earth because of a parachute failure. A year later he was followed by Albert l who also died by suffocating in his own capsule even before he left earth.
These tiny animals adapt to the microgravity conditions really well. This is the reason why these animals have long been studied to know more about how humans will survive in space. Recently NASA has revealed that mice are actually housed at the International Space Station. In 1950 the first mouse was sent into space which travelled a distance of 137km. it also died because of a parachute failure when the rocket disintegrated.
A number of dogs have been to space under the former Soviet Union. However, the most famous of the dogs which have been to space was Laika in 1957. Laika was a stray mongrel puppy picked up off of the streets in Moscow. The scientists thought that a stray dog would be more suitable for coping with the adverse conditions in space. Laika was only given one meal and 7 days oxygen supply. She was the first dog who orbited around the earth but never came back. The Soviet Government later claimed that she had survived for 7 days but later the truth came out that Laika was actually overheated and died only 5 hours into the journey.
In 1968, Soviet Union launched their spaceship Zond 5 which carried a capsule with some soil samples, some worms, seeds and 2 steppe tortoises. The spaceship completed an orbit around the moon and came back to earth after 6 days. It was supposed to land in Kazakhstan but went off course. It was later retrieved from the Indian Ocean and it had two alive tortoises sitting in the capsule.
First frog went into the space but the most famous frog-flight of all time was launched by NASA. NASA launched the Orbiting Frog Olotith Spacecraft in 1970. This spacecraft contained two bull frogs. The purpose of this mission was to study the effects of space travel on motion sickness. The study concluded that after 6 days of space travel the frogs were acclimatized and their systems had come back to normal.
Anita and Arabella, two garden spiders were sent in space for the first time in 1973. The main purpose of this experiment was to look whether these spiders could actually spin webs in the space or not. This experiment was a brain-child of Judith Miles, a student of Massachusetts high school student.
Some people think that experimentation is something else but animals dying during these experiments, is animal abuse. This somehow looks just about right in cases like Laika’s. Let’s see where science takes us with these experiments. Till then, happy exploring!