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Ham Concentrating at Work
Ham was a chimpanzee. He worked for
The photo above was
taken on January 1, 1961. Ham was three years
old and in the biopack couch for the MR-2 suborbital test flight.
Ham was in this position because he
was assigned to Project Mercury.
In other words, Ham and his team had
to figure out how to make manned spaceflights possible.
Was Ham's Mission
NASA tells us,
ladder NASA climbed to reach the Moon had three rungs of
achievement -- the Mercury, Gemini and Apollo programs.
first program, Project Mercury, was initiated on Oct. 7, 1958,
just six days after the founding of NASA. Its objective was to
orbit and retrieve a manned Earth satellite.
The Big Flight
On January 31, 1961, Ham made history
when he became the first primate in space.
A Mercury-Redstone launch from Cape
Canaveral carried Ham over 640 kilometers down range in an arching
trajectory that reached a peak of 254 kilometers above the Earth.
The mission was successful and Ham
performed his lever-pulling task well in response to the flashing
light. The successful flight and recovery confirmed the soundness of
the Mercury-Redstone systems.
A little antsy before
his big flight: Ham trying to relax.
Heck of a Ride: Ham is
ready for his first food after 4 hours in the spacecraft.
But the competition worked around the
clock as well. On April 12, 1961, Yury
Gagarin became the first man in space.
Thanks to Ham and other chimpanzees and primates
employed by NASA, the Mercury Capsule was ready on May 5, 1961, when
Alan Shepard became the first
American in space.
The Mercury capsule, by the way, rode
atop a modified Redstone rocket, developed by
Dr. Wernher von Braun and the German Rocket Team in
This is Ham's colleague Enos.
On November 29, 1961, Enos went up for
two orbits. With the help of biosensors attached to Enos' body, he
managed to bring down some valuable data. His flight confirmed
normal bodily functions and motor abilities in weightlessness.
Enos Back from Space
And thanks to Ham and other pioneers, the
history of space travel developed rapidly:
In July 1969,
Neil Armstrong became the first to walk on the Moon.
set a record in the category "longest
stay in space." All in all, Valery was
in space for 438 days, from January 8,
1994 until March 22, 1995.
with a little cash, you can book a ticket into
Spaceport America in New Mexico gets you onboard.
Ham all geared-up:
This is his spacesuit he would wear for the MR-2 suborbital test
flight on January 31, 1961. Photo taken on January 1, 1961.
Astrochimp Ham - First Primate