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Since the origins of astronautics, animals have been used to test survival on spaceflight, a few years before attempting manned space missions. On board space vehicles, their vital signs were studied to investigate various biological processes and the possible effects of microgravity.
Until 2013, there have been seven countries that have brought animals into space: the United States, the Soviet Union, France, Japan, China, Argentina and Iran. During the sixties and seventies, Argentina conducted several experiments sending different animals on suborbital flights, such as white rats, guinea pigs or monkeys.
They are names that already belong to the history of astronautics, such as the Argentine rat Bellisario; the Horsfield turtle and the Marfusa rabbit, both Soviet, or the Amy and Rally mice, from the United States.
But, without a doubt, the most famous animal that has been sent to space is the dog Laika. It was a terrier with a Samoyed mix that was put into orbit on November 3, 1957, aboard the Sputnik II spacecraft. According to NASA, it is most likely that this poor puppy only survived a day or two.
More luck was Ham, the first astronaut chimpanzee. He was placed in sub-orbit aboard the Mercury Redstone rocket on January 31, 1961. After emphasizing the Atlantic Ocean, the chimpanzee showed signs of fatigue and dehydration, but his medical examiners said he would have a good life expectancy.
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