Monday, August 13, 2012

Rocket Monkey

Rocket Monkey by megan_n_smith_99
Rocket Monkey, a photo by megan_n_smith_99 on Flickr.

Yesterday was my god daughter's 5th birthday. She was so excited. She received 4 disney princess party dresses and 5 pairs of shoes. I knit her a princess crown and gave her this painting. Her little brother really liked this painting too, he's my little monkey.

I did not pick the monkey randomly as the pilot. Before manned space flight, monkeys became the first primates in space. In total 32 monkeys have made it into space.

The very first monkey in space was sent up by the US --Albert, a Rhesus monkey, blasted off in 1948. More monkeys followed Albert into space as part of the US Space program, in the 50s, 60s, and one trip in the 80s. France, The Soviet Union, and Argentina also sent monkeys to space.

Other animals who have been sent off-planet include fruit flies (the very first animals in space), mice, dogs, rabbits, frogs, rats, cats, wasps, beetles, tortoises, fish, newts, shrimp, crickets, sea urchins, and jellyfish -- actually far more animals have left the Earth than people! Sadly, not all of them made it back, and some made it back in poor health. Fortunately scientists learned a lot from these experiments and the later flights with animal astronauts were more successful, leading up to the first human in space, a Russian astronaut named Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin in 1961. Yuri was followed up by Alan Bartlett Shepard, Jr., the second person and first American in space, also in 1961.

Just a little something to think about next time you look to the skies.

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