Space monkeys appreciated

National Geographic celebrates the first monkeys in space with a photo-feature of the poor little primates in their capsules:
A squirrel monkey named Baker peers out from a 1950s NASA biocapsule as she's readied for her first space mission. Baker and a rhesus monkey named Able launched aboard a Jupiter AM-18 rocket on May 28, 1959 -- 50 years ago this week. The pair returned to Earth alive after a 15-minute flight, becoming the first primates to survive a trip into space. Miss Baker, as she came to be known, spent the latter part of her life at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. She died of kidney failure in 1984 at the ripe old age of 27.
SPACE MONKEY PICTURES: 50-Year Anniversary (Thanks, Marilyn!)



  1. After looking at the picture and headline, my first instinct was to cringe at the fact that these cute monkeys had died. The didn’t, phew. That being said, that little monkey does not look happy.

    As such, I was a little bit forlorn and went to my favorite monkey-chaser site:
    Monkey Helpers for the Disabled is a national nonprofit serving quadriplegic and other people with severe spinal cord injuries or mobility-impairments by providing highly trained monkeys to assist with daily activities.:

    The first pic in the third gallery is my personal favorite.

  2. I want to be sad for the monkey. But the monkey went into space.

    I’ve never been to space.

  3. I was lucky to see Miss Baker in her plexiglass cubicle in Huntsville; I wonder if she stayed their all night when they cut off the lights. Also there, a prototype of a vector graphics lunar lander video game that video game collectors swear up and down did not exist UNTIL after it was commercially available elsewhere. But I didn’t see anything approaching it for years, on the home front or professional arcade front..

  4. @#7: I’ve never seen Quantum Leap, so no.

    However, I’ve got a half memory that there is a classic sci-fi image of a space-suited monkey looking out at a star field with a discernible simian sense of wonder in his eyes. It’s from a movie, or a movie poster, or maybe it’s cover art for a novel? Alas, I can’t remember the details that would actually help me find it, and this is bugging the hell out of me. :P Anyone have any suggestions as to what it might be?

  5. I saw Miss Baker several times at the Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville as well. IIRC, she lived there with some other rhesus monkeys until her death. Her grave marker is right outside one of the entrances now.

  6. Think about the animals used in product testing. Think about the monkeys shot into space.

    “Without their death, their pain, without the sacrifice,” Tyler says, “we would have nothing.”

  7. And in Night at the Museum 2 they called Abel a Capuchin. Of all the little details to bother getting WRONG.

  8. Once again, the French, while lagging behind in rocket technology, defeat us in the fashion world with their test monkey rocking stylish striped sleeveless shirts.

  9. The creepiest part is that Baker and Able are both stuffed and mounted in the Smithsonian Air and Space Museum. Scared the hell out of me as a kid. Baker is still mounted in that little capsule with a horrified look on her little face.

  10. I was also privileged to see Miss Baker at the Space & Rocket Center during an elementary school field trip. I look back on it as something of a pilgrimage. She was well cared for and loved; not a bad retirement at all. Willing or not, she and Abel were heroes, paving the way for human exploration of space.

  11. @#21: I think you have to choose being a hero to be one. If you don’t, or if you can’t, you’re (almost) a commodity: a poor monkey sent to space to help the USA win the space race, or a poor dog sent to space to help the USSR on the same goal. In the end, is just a sign of our selfish morale: inflicting stress, pain and death on a few animals is a good thing if it bennefits the human kind.

  12. This would have been awesome if the post had just consisted of the title!

    Primates in space! Manna from heaven!

  13. The names Able and Baker like the Atomic bombs at crossroads are literally just counting. The army callsign alphabet back in the fifties and sixties started Able, Baker, Charlie….

  14. @#16 Fred H: That might not be exactly the one I was thinking of, but it’s certainly close enough to count. Thanks!

  15. This is actually a photo from a 1953 experiment done in Russia. They were trying to gain some footing in nano-bot healing technology. What we see here is a Tepukin H7 anal-capsule.

    The survival rate for both prototype and patient were never published.

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