Meet Ham, the first primate in space! He took off on a suborbital space flight on January 31, 1961, preceding the USSR’s Yuri Gagarin into space by two and a half months.
His name stands for Holloman Aerospace Medical center, the Air Force base where he completed his training and mission prep. Of course, he was far from the only animal trained for the space program on either side of the Iron Curtain. NASA has written up an extensive history of animal astronauts (not all of it good, I’m afraid).
Check out this super-interesting, and slightly uncomfortable, 1961 newsreel film about Ham: Trailblazer in Space.
Ham lived, presumably happily (but maybe not), until 1983, when he died at the National Zoo and North Carolina Zoo. His remains were buried at the International Space Hall of Fame to commemorate his service to manned space flight. Way to go, little man.
Check out these 10 hilarious baby gifs. #6 is a classic!