1961: Ham the chimpanzee is shot into space

IN 1961, Ham the chimpanzee was removed from his home in at the Holloman Aerospace Medical Center, located at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico. Ham had the Right Stuff.  The four-year-old chimpanzee had been rescued from meat markets in Cameroon. Well, so they say. On January 3rd, 1961 the hairy crash-test dummy was strapped inside a Mercury rocket and shot 155 miles space ata speed of 5,000mph. Onboard, he pulled levers in response to lights.  Thanks to Ham, the craft as modified. Four months later, Alan Shepard became the first American in space.

Ham, a chimpanzee, is inside the rocket shown on deck of ship after being pulled out of water following its space flight on Jan. 31, 1961. The first U.S. suborbital flight, an animal experiment, carrying Ham in a mercury capsule to an altitude of 155 miles, with parachute splashdown 420 miles down range. The animal was recovered in good condition.

Ham the monkey is shown in his space suit in the nose cone of the Mercury-Redstone 3 rocket that took him on a 1,500 mile journey.

This is how Ham the chimp appeared in his capsule during his space flight from Cape Canaveral, Florida on Feb. 2, 1961. Film exposed by automatic camera set up inside the capsule and trained on the animal?s face reflected in a mirror.


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