NASA Monkey Business

Before sending a man into orbit in the early 1960′s, NASA (National Aeronautics and Space Administration) tested the conditions using chimpanzees. The most famous Chimp-Astronaut was Ham who actually did simple, timed tasks in his pre-flight training.

On January 31, 1961, Ham was secured in a Project Mercury space capsule and launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida, on a suborbital flight.  After about 17-minutes in space (during which time he hit buttons and pulled levers on cue,) Ham splashed down and became an instant national hero. 

He was pictured on the cover of Life magazine and thousands of Americans wrote requesting his “autograph.”  NASA gladly complied and helped him put his inked hand print on numerous photographs.

The “real” astronauts were infuriated!  These were top Air Force test pilots who risked their lives and trained for years in America’s space program.  They hated the fact most Americans now thought their missions were so easy, they could be completed by monkeys.

On February 20, 1962,  John Glenn became the first American to orbit the Earth aboard Friendship 7.  To honor this huge achievement, President Kennedy invited him to the White House for a special award. As soon as she saw him, Carolyn Kennedy, the President’s young daughter asked, “Where’s the monkey?

NASA Monkey retirement home:  https://www.google.com/

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