What was the first animal in space?

First Animal in Space

The first animals intentionally sent into space were fruit flies, which traveled along with corn seeds aboard a U.S.-launched V2 rocket in mid July, 1946. The purpose of the experiment was to explore the effects of radiation exposure at high altitudes. Some further V2 missions carried biological samples, including moss.

A rhesus monkey called Albert became the first monkey launched on June 11, 1948; also on board a US-launched V2 rocket. Albert suffocated during the flight.
The generally accepted definition of the boundary between earth's atmosphere and "space" is 100 km (62 mi.) altitude, known as the Karman line. Thus, the first "Albert," who flew on a V2 on June 11, 1948 did not fly into space, reaching an altitude of 63 km (38 mi.). Albert II flew into space on June 14, 1949, reaching an altitude of 134 km (83 mi.). Also, it is not clear from commonly available sources whether the 1946 fruit flies reached space or not.

Albert II in a U.S. launched V2 became the first monkey in space on June 14, 1949 (after the failure of the original Albert's mission). He was killed on impact after a parachute failure on his return to Earth.
Numerous monkeys of several species were flown by the U.S. in the 1950s and 60s.

Laika, a Russian dog, and the first animal in orbit, was launched on 3 November 1957 and died a few hours later from stress and overheating resulting from a failure of the temperature control system.
At least 10 more dogs were launched into space and on sub-orbital flights by the Soviets until April 12, 1961, when Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Since those first historic launches, many monkeys, chimpanzees, rats, mice, frogs, spiders, cats, gorillas and even a tortoise were launched into space.  

Other contributors have said:

  • The first rocket ever sent to space probably carried bacteria or some other accidental passenger. But the first animals ever intentionally sent into space were fruit flies launched aboard a V2 rocket in 1947. US scientists were studying the effects of radiation at high altitude.
  • A rhesus monkey called Albert 1 became the first monkey launched into space on June 11, 1948; also on board a US-launched V2 rocket. These were just suborbital flights, though. The first animal to actually go into orbit was the dog Laika, launched on board the Soviet Sputnik 2 spacecraft on November 3, 1957. Unfortunately, Laika died during the flight. At least 10 more dogs were launched into space and on sub-orbital flights by the Soviets until April 12, 1961, when Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space. Since those first historic launches, many monkeys, chimpanzees, rats, mice, frogs, spiders, cats, gorillas and even a tortoise were launched into space.