Second Thought takes a brisk stroll through the historical death toll for earth creatures sent into space. Let's just say you didn't want to be a space monkey in the mid-20th century.
On June 11, 1948, a V-2 Blossom launched into space from White Sands, New Mexico carrying Albert I, a rhesus monkey. Lack of fanfare and documentation made Albert an unsung hero of animal astronauts. On June 14, 1949, a second V-2 flight carrying a live Air Force Aeromedical Laboratory monkey, Albert II, attained an altitude of 83 miles. The monkey died on impact. On August 31, 1950, another V-2 was launched and carried an unanaesthetized mouse that was photographed in flight and did not survive impact. On December 12, 1949, the last V-2 monkey flight was launched at White Sands. Albert IV, a rhesus monkey attached to monitoring instruments, was the payload. It was a successful flight, with no ill effects on the monkey until impact, when it died.
On September 20, 1951, a monkey named Yorick and 11 mice were recovered after an Aerobee missile flight of 236,000 feet at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico. Yorick got a fair amount of press as the first monkey to live through a space flight.
Meanwhile, the Soviets were betting on stray dogs, which they believed were stronger than other dogs and more likely to chill out than a monkey while confined in their restraints.
• The Morbid History of Space Missions (YouTube / Second Thought)
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