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
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
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.