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Ham (July 1957 – January 19, 1983), also known as Ham the Chimp and Ham the Astrochimp, was a chimpanzee and the first hominid launched into space.On January 31, 1961, Ham flew a suborbital flight on the Mercury-Redstone 2 mission, part of the U.S. space program's Project Mercury. By the time NASA was founded in 1958, America had sent numerous hamsters, mice and monkeys into space (sadly, … In 1957, the dog became the first animal to enter the Earth’s orbit. The Soviet Union launches a female dog into space on Sputnik II. Laika’s voyage had a tragic end – her spacecraft was rushed by scientists who, determined to get into orbit before the Americans, didn’t have time to find a way to bring her home. Image to left: Chimpanzees were one of the first mammals to travel into space Credit: NASA In the earlier days of space exploration, nobody knew if people could survive a trip away from Earth, so using animals was the best way to find out. Many animals such as monkeys, dogs and cats went up, but the very first travelers to the moon were reptiles — or to be more specific, Russian Steppe tortoises. Equipment had to be built and tested, experimental flights were performed, and studies of how plant and animal life reacted to the different environment of space were completed. On Jan. 31, 1961 — a few months before Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering flight — Ham became the first hominid in space. Laika (Russian: Лайка; c. 1954 – 3 November 1957) was a Soviet space dog who became one of the first animals in space, and the first animal to orbit the Earth. https://www.rmg.co.uk/discover/explore/what-was-first-animal-space The first aquanauts to reach space were a type of minnow found in salt marshes – the mummichog – plus 50 eggs. Other nonhominid animals had ventured into space before Ham, but he and his fellow “astrochimps” were trained to pull levers and prove it was physically possible to pilot the Project Mercury spacecraft. Her name is Laika, which means "barker" in Russian. However, since the Soviets did not create a re-entry plan, Laika died in space. That encouraged biologists to launch other animals on V-2 excursions. She lives for seven days, proving that animals (and presumably humans) can survive in space. The most famous of these first animals in space by far is Laika, the Soviet space dog. 60 years ago: The First Animal in Orbit | NASA Laika's death sparked debates about animal rights around the world. Aboard the Soviet's Sputnik 2, Laika, a dog, became the very first living creature to enter orbit on November 3, 1957. On November 3, 1957, less than a month after they inaugurated the Space Age, the Soviet Union took the next big step with the launch of Sputnik 2. 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