Meet Ham : The first Chimp in Space

On 31st March 1961, A chimpanzee named Ham was sent to space. NASA was later planning to send a human into Earth’s orbit. With Ham’s help, the project to send a human into earth’s orbital became successful. The competition was getting ignited between the United States and the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union had previously sent a dog to space and thus proving that mammals can survive in space. And this was how the ‘chimp in space’ project was born. Ham’s space flight lasted 16 ½ minutes and he spent a total of 6 ½  minutes in gravity.

NASA used to call Ham ‘Number 65’ as they thought that media and viewers will cling to a cute name and thus he was never called Ham until he arrived safely from space. Ham was given hardcore training by NASA so that Ham would survive in space.

On  31st January 1961, he was strapped to his capsule called the bio pack, he was also attached with biosensors. He was monitored using computers by NASA officials. Ham’s capsule was cracked due to the high speed and there was a loss of air pressure. Also, Ham landed 132 miles away in the Atlantic ocean from the predicted landing spot it took the recruited USS donner hours to search for harm but at last, he was rescued it was reported that due to the crack Ham was at high risk and was saved only by his suit.

After the space mission, it was reported that Ham was reluctant to sit back in that space chair. The data collected from Ham’s mission was really helpful to send Alan Shepher Jr., the First American in space in May 1961.

After the mission, Ham was sent to a zoo in Washington DC where he lived 17 years in solitude and 3 years with other chimpanzees. Unfortunately, he died on 19 January 1983 at the age of 25 (which is too young for a chimpanzee) His body was buried at the International Space Hall of Fame, New Mexico. Also, his skull is preserved at the National Museum of Health and Medicine in Maryland.

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