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Ham the Chimp
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Animal
    (August 1956-January 19, 1983)
    Also known as HAM and Ham the Astrochimp
    Born in Africa
    Captured and chosen by NASA to become the first hominid launched into outer space
    HAM an acronym for Holloman Aerospace Medical Center, the U.S. Air Force base in New Mexico where he was trained
    At age four placed inside a Project Mercury capsule and launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida into space (January 31, 1961)
    Flight lasted 16 minutes, 39 seconds, his capsule spashing into the Atlantic Ocean where he was recovered
    Died at the North Carolina Zoo at age 26
    Mentioned in the 2002 movie 'Race to Space'
    Discussed on the opening podcast of The Ricky Gervais Show
    He was not the first animal in space (that distinction belongs to Laika).
    Though he was the first Great Ape in space, he wasn't the first monkey as two rhesus monkeys and two squirrel monkeys preceded him.
    He was trained to flip a series of switches on and off by getting a banana pellet for correct responses and a shock to the feet for wrong ones.
    After his feat he was exploited on TV and even appeared on film with Evel Knievel.
    He had no say in his training and ultimate mission but performed like a champion.
    During his flight his 37 pound frame became weightless for seven minutes.
    His capsule suffered partial loss of pressure, but his space suit prevented him from harm.
    His capsule splashed down 122 miles off course and took on some water, but rescue copters were able to save him.
    Some time during the flight he suffered a bruised nose, his only injury.
    True to his name he 'hammed it up' for photographers, shaking hands with military crewmen after arriving on the recovery ship.
    He became the first creature in space that had functions to perform and not merely a passenger.
    The success of his flight allowed Alan Shepard to become the first American in space less than four months later (May 5, 1961).
    He is buried with honor on the grounds of the New Mexico Museum of Space History.

Credit: Scar Tactics


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