Ham the ChimpAstronaut
Died: 19 January 1983
Best known as: America's first chimpanzee in space
Ham the Chimp was one of the chimpanzees specially trained by NASA rocket scientists to fly in tests of American space capsules. On January 31, 1961, Ham blasted off from Cape Canaveral and traveled 157 miles in a Mercury capsule before splashing down in the Atlantic ocean. The trip took 16.5 minutes in all. Three months later the first American human, Alan Shepard, followed Ham into space.
Extra credit: Ham the Chimp was not the first animal in space. That honor goes to Laika the dog, who was sent into orbit by the Soviet Union in 1957.
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