First 5 animals that were sent to space before humans

Did you know that a number of animals were sent into the space before humans dared to go into space? These animals were in spacecrafts for testing purposes so as to verify if they can survive the radiation and weightlessness in space. Here, in this article, we have shared about the first and foremost animals that were sent into space before manned space missions and exactly what happened afterwards.

Over the past years, humans have been successful in evolving themselves technologically and otherwise. So much so, that we have had sent numerous rockets up above and have been successful in deploying space station and numerous satellites that transmit signals for television, radio and telephone around the globe. A decade ago, going into space was like almost like a dream. Today, several astronauts can go up above for repairing and maintenance of satellites. Long ago, it had all started with the humans stepping on the Moon for the first time.

Below you can find the first animals that were sent into space as test subjects,

When Dogs and Cats were sent into Space

Being the initial days of human making all possible efforts for these missions, there were some failures and sad points too. Several animals who were sent into space did not meet a good end. There was no way to bring them back on the Earth by then. A death of this kind could have been terrible. A female Samoyed husky, named Laika was the first animal who met a helpless death in space. On November 3rd, 1957, Sputnik 2 was launched by USSR with a living load, Laika, into the orbit.Although, the launch was successful but the poor Laika could not survive more than 10 days as there was no way to take her back on the Earth.

Later on August 19th, 1960, two female Samoyed named Strelka and Belka were successfully launched into the orbit. Afterwards, Strelka had also been the mother of six cute puppies. One of those puppies was adopted by John F. Kennedy, the President of United States at that time.

When time for the Cat's flight arrived

Within a couple of years, we had managed to ensure the safe return of animals that are sent to space. On the day of judgement, 18th October 1963, a male cat (nicknamed as Felix) was to be shot into the space using Veronique AGI that was also to be brought back safely on the Earth's surface using a parachute. However, the male cat 'Felix' had managed to escape the flight, right before the mission and a female Felicette cat was used as a replacement to it. Anyways, the mission was executed and completed successfully. This particular mission surely had given new hopes for human cosmonauts who were expected to return safe on the Earth after the visit into the space.

Monkeys to Chimpanzees' visits into space

After dogs, the next tests were conducted on two different species of Monkey. Two female monkeys, namely Able and Baker were also shot into the space on May 28th, 1959. Both of them were successfully brought back to the Earth in a healthy state.

Later, a male Chimpanzee, named Enos was also launched. The male Chimp completed two orbits before returning safe and alive on the Earth.

Next space missions also included monkeys or other test subjects such as frogs and rats into space.

Bull Frogs into the space

As if the animals already sent to the space were not enough, frogs were chosen as a part of NASA's program for the next flights to study their nature in weightlessness of space. On November 9th, 1970, two bullfrogs were taken into the orbit, using an OFO-A or Orbiting Frog Otolith of America. Later, more number of frogs was used by scientists and researchers to study different aspects of living up above in the orbit.

Spiders: into the space

A garden-spider, called as Arabella was brought into the United States Skylab-3, where it was tested for her characteristics in the weightlessness of space. Given, that she was capable of weaving webs which was being expected as a positive point for her to survive in space at no proper gravity. Arabella spent almost sixty good days in orbit before being brought back.

When Columbia STS-90 mission with the highest number of beings into Space

The space shuttle mission Columbia STS-90, to be undergone from April 17th to 3rd of May, 1988, had a menagerie with 200+ sword-tail fishes, 170 rats, 130+ nails, 18 mice, toad fishes as well as 1514 cricket eggs, respectively, in its NeuroLab.

Unfortunate accident of Columbia STS -107, that took many lives, including humans

The fate of Columbia STS-107 space shuttle registered its name in the list of failed space missions, when it broke down while re-entering into Earth's atmosphere. The sad incident took the life of seven skilled astronauts and all the other animals present on the shuttle died. Reportedly, a can of Worms were found and recovered alive while the others including spiders, ants, Japanese killifishes, bees, silkworms and the human passengers had seen a disastrous dead end of life.

Words from the author

While we can see that human had to suffer a lot, risking the lives of innocent animals and him, it seems as if all those efforts did work for expanding our reach into the space. There was a day when we had prepared to reach the Moon. Today, we can send research bots to nearby planets with Mars Curiosity Rover and Mars Orbiter Mission-1 and 2 being good examples of it.

Moreover, we have been getting ready for Objective Europa in which astronauts will be sent on a one-way mission to Jupiter's moon, to search life. Many of us will name it as suicide, as once reached there, they will be having no means to return to the Earth.

Altogether, they will be sacrificing their valuable lives forever in search of life forms on moons of Jupiter and will die an unimaginable death once their oxygen and resources will be over. Worth wondering the thought that all these efforts by humans are somewhere serving one sole purpose... We are too desperate to unsolve the mystery of life and our existence and more specifically the origin of our lives. Are we on the right path? Will we ever unfold all the unread pages of the mystery of Universe? Well, we can just make efforts and keep hopes with the space and time.

(You can read more about Objective Europa at their official website: )

(Image credits to the original sources:,

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Author: Kailash Kumar16 Aug 2016 Member Level: Platinum   Points : 0

The United States and the U.S.S.R. had been sending animals to outer space atop rockets since 1947. Animals which have been sent to the space for testing include cockroaches, guinea pigs, wasps, beetles, flies, worms, fish, spiders, rabbits, bees, ants, frogs, mice, crickets, rats, newts, snails, jellyfish, butterflies, scorpions and tortoises to name a few. The first animals to reach space were fruit flies on 20.02.1947. The first mammal to reach space successfully was a Rhesus monkey on 14.06.1949. After Laika, the Soviet Union had sent two more dogs named Belka and Strelka on 19.08.1960. The animals were the first to return alive after actually orbiting in the outer space.

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