(First Chimp in Space) On This Day – January 31st

Michael Thomas, Editor

On this day, January the 31st, in the year of 1961, Ham, a chimpanzee, became the first of his kind to go into space.

The Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union spurred the Space Race, a “race” between the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. to achieve feats regarding space, such as launching satellites and getting people on the moon, better and faster than the other. This race included sending animals to space to see whether they could survive and the effects it had on them.

To see whether tasks could be able to be accomplished in space, NASA prepared and trained a Chimpanzee into space, “Number 65”, who was also known as Ham.

Lasting around sixteen minutes and 5800 miles, Ham was able to complete his tasks in space, leading the way for future U.S. astronauts.

Ham survived his journey to space and back to Earth, gaining international fame, spending the rest of his life in zoos (Save the Chimps) (Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum).

To read more daily facts and tidbits and about the Cold War, see the Barron Perspectives “On this Day Archives” webpage and such articles as “(Outer Space Treaty) On This Day – December 19th” and “On This Day – October 30th (Tsar Bomba)”.