The team at Celestis Pets firmly believes in the humane treatment of all animals and acknowledges the sacrifices of the animal pioneers who blazed the trail for human space travel.
Laika the Dog - 1957
Date: November 3, 1957 - Species: Dog - Location: Soviet Union - A Soviet space dog named Laika was launched on board the Sputnik 2 satellite. Sputnik 2 orbited Earth for over five months but was not designed to return to Earth and Laika sadly perished during reentry on April 14, 1958.
Gordo the Squirrel Monkey - 1958
Date: December 13, 1958 - Species: Squirrel Monkey - Location: United States - Gordo travelled to space on board a PGM-19 Jupiter rocket to an altitude of 310 miles (500 kilometers). Gordo achieved temporary weightlessness on his suborbital flight and survived the return, but his capsule was lost in the south Atlantic Ocean and never recovered.
Able and Miss Baker - 1958
Date: December 13, 1958 - Species: Monkeys - Location: United States - Able, a rhesus monkey, and Baker, a squirrel monkey, flew on a suborbital flight. The rocket flew to an altitude of approximately 300 miles (483 kilometers) and experienced nine minutes of weightlessness. Both monkeys returned safely to Earth although Able died three days later due to complications from the mission.
Sam the Rhesus Monkey - 1959
Date: December 4, 1959 - Species: Rhesus Monkey - Location: United States - Sam, a rhesus monkey, was launched from Wallops Island, Virginia, on a “Little Joe” rocket launch, flying to an altitude of 55 miles (88 km). The purpose of the mission was to test a couch and restraint system that astronauts would use on future Mercury flights. Sam returned to Earth successfully.
Miss Sam the Rhesus Monkey - 1960
Date: January 21, 1960 - Species: Rhesus Monkey - Location: United States - Miss Sam, a rhesus monkey, was launched on a second Little Joe launch, flying to an altitude of only nine miles (14 km). The purpose of the mission was to test the escape system of Mercury rockets. Miss Sam was recovered alive.
Belka and Strelka the Dogs - 1960
Date: August 19, 1960 - Species: Dogs - Location: Soviet Union - Two Soviet space dogs, Belka and Strelka, were launched into orbit along with mice, rats and fruit flies on board Sputnik 5. All animals returned safely to Earth after orbiting Earth for one day. This mission marked the first time that any living creature returned safely to Earth after orbiting our planet. Strelka, a female, eventually gave birth and one of her puppies was given to U.S. President John F. Kennedy.
Sam the Chimpanzee - 1961
Date: January 31, 1961 - Species: Chimpanzee - Location: United States - Ham the chimpanzee, was launched on a Mercury-Redstone 2 suborbital mission that reached an altitude of 158 miles (254 kilometers). The mission was successful and Ham performed multiple tasks while in flight. NASA used chimpanzees and other primates to test the Mercury Capsule before launching the first U.S. astronaut, Alan Shepard, later in 1961.
Zvezdochka the Dog - 1961
Date: March 25, 1961 - Species: Dog - Location: Soviet Union - The Soviet Union launch Zvezdochka the dog and a dummy cosmonaut on board a Sputnik 5. Zvezdochka's mission gave the Soviet Union the confidence to launch Yuri Gagarin, the first human in space, on his historic April 12, 1961 flight.
Enos the Chimpanzee - 1961
Date: November 29, 1961 - Species: Chimpanzee - Location: United States - The U.S. launch of Enos the chimpanzee was the first time the U.S. launched a living being into orbit. Enos performed his assigned tasks in orbit and returned safely to Earth. This mission paved the way for John Glenn’s Earth-orbiting flight on February 20, 1962.
Félicette the Cat - 1963
Date: October 18, 1963 - Species: Cat - Location: France - In 1963, the French government sent Félicette the cat to space on a 15-minute suborbital mission. Félicette flew to an altitude on 130 miles (209 kilometers) before separating from her booster and returning safely to Earth, becoming the first ever feline to travel to space.
While many of the animals who flew on early spaceflights survived, some did not. In all cases, they had no say in their participation but served boldly regardless. Their contributions to human knowledge were as substantial as they were costly. Celestis Pets hopes this presentation builds a deeper appreciation of our courageous animal friends and the inhumane conditions they faced at the dawn of the space age.
As part of our efforts to improve the lives of all animals, Celestis Pets will donate a portion of all proceeds to the Rescued Pets Movement, a volunteer non-profit that helps homeless dogs and cats find homes around the United States. Join us as we honor our four-legged companions and support their friends with every launch!