How do dogs react to weightlessness?

Animals in space : Two monkeys in the service of humanity

Every now and then, bananas can be found on a tombstone at the entrance to the space center in Huntsville, Alabama. "Often there is a banana, or two," said Ed Buckbee, a former head of the center, the US radio station NPR. "Then we know that someone who might have heard the story came by and wanted to leave something to remember, like leaving flowers on a person's grave." US animal that flew into space and came back alive. "

Together with Able, a rhesus monkey lady, Baker was shot about 580 kilometers into space on Tuesday (May 28) by the US space agency Nasa with a "Jupiter" rocket. After a 15-minute space flight, around nine minutes of which in weightlessness, they were recovered alive near the Caribbean island of Antigua. Baker and Able were the first two animals sent into space by the US that survived the flight. Your task: on behalf of mankind, test the largely unknown effects of weightlessness at the time.

The monkeys became little celebrities

Baker was from Peru and came to NASA through a pet shop in Florida; Able was born in Kansas, USA. On their big day, the two cat-sized animals were strapped to the top of the rocket, wired and launched into space from the Cape Canaveral spaceport in the US state of Florida. A US Navy boat then fished the two ape astronauts out of the sea and radioed: “Able, Baker perfect. No injuries or other difficulties. "

Baker was very easy to keep, the captain of the navy boat, Joseph Guion, later recalled. “She was like a little doll. But Able was just the opposite. You couldn't get near it. ”The intact monkeys become stars, appear at press conferences and magazine covers. Many space scientists are enthusiastic, animal rights activists are outraged.

Able dies a few days after her return from space because an electrode implanted under her skin catches fire. The female monkey did not survive an operation in a clinic. Stuffed, Able is still reminiscent of the historic space flight in the Air and Space Museum in Washington, lashed into the very tube in which it flew into space 60 years ago. Baker, on the other hand, lives on for another 25 years, is even invited to the White House and receives fan mail from the laundry basket. In 1984 she died of kidney failure at the age of 27. More than 300 people attended her funeral at the Alabama Space Center.

Jellyfish and spiders also flew into space

Animal testing played a central role in the early stages of space travel - and Able and Baker weren't the first. Two years earlier, the Soviet Union had sent the mixed breed dog Laika into space, but she died after just a few hours. By 1962, the Soviet Union had sent a total of 29 dogs to the limits of space, 17 more died in addition to Laika. Cats, mice, insects, microbes, plants and turtles followed. Meanwhile, the Americans sent fruit flies, monkeys and mice. Rabbits, jellyfish and spiders also flew into space - and the latter successfully spun nets in weightlessness. Worms, butterflies and frogs have been guests on the International Space Station.

All of the cosmic animal experiments provided data for manned space travel. "The animals have done their countries services that no human would have done," says Nasa. Again and again there were violent protests from animal rights activists. Today animals have become rarer in space and there is greater concern about their welfare. "There are so few flight options for a mission with animals that the research project has to be pretty important to get a place," says Laura Lewis of NASA. "And when you travel with you, your well-being is a key issue." Christina Horsten, dpa

Now new: We give you 4 weeks of Tagesspiegel Plus! To home page