Mental Floss

The Quick 10: 10 Animals in Space

Stacy Conradt
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laika
laika /
gordo
gordo /
able
able /

5 and 6: Belka and Strelka. You might have heard of this pair for a couple of reasons - first of all, they were among the first living things to actually go into orbit and come back alive. They were accompanied by a vast menagerie of creatures, including a rabbit, mice, rats, flies and plants. When they came back, Strelka celebrated by having a litter of puppies with her colleague Pushok, another dog who participated in Russian space experiments. Nikita Khrushchev gave Caroline Kennedy one of the puppies "“ Pushinka "“ as a gift the following year. When Pushinka hooked up with a Kennedy dog named Charlie and had puppies, JFK liked to refer to their spawn as "pupniks."

CATS IN space
CATS IN space /
HAM
HAM /

9. Anita and Arabella. Technically they should count as #9 and #10, but since they're so small I'll lump them into one. Anita and Arabella were spiders who were guests on SkyLab in 1973. Their purpose? To see if the gravity changes would allow them to spin webs as usual. After a day or so of being freaked out (wouldn't you be?) they did, but it was noted that the silk produced by the spiders was finer than the samples they had spun in their pre-launch test environments, and the thickness of the web was more erratic than on the ground. Both spiders died during the mission from what appeared to be dehydration.

10. A tortoise. An unnamed tortoise, as far as I can tell, but if anyone knows the name of this dude, it will be our _flossers. On September 18, 1968, the tortoise became the first living thing to go into deep space. It orbited the moon and made its way back to Earth safely.

There's plenty more "“ it easily could have been a list of 10 dogs or 10 monkeys, actually. There's long been debate over whether this is animal cruelty or a necessary evil of space exploration "“ what do you think? I have to say Laika breaks my heart a little bit.

And because I can't resist a good Muppet tie-in:

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