Sunday, August 29, 2010

Space Animals Trivia

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If you've been reading along this month, you should know most of the missions to which these facts refer!

In September 1968, the Soviet Union launched two horsfield tortoises, wine flies and meal worms in the Zond 5 space craft, which completed a circumlunar voyage (i.e. traveled around the Moon) and came safely back to Earth – making these the first living things to survive "deep space".

Russian Tortoise
Only the Apollo 13 crew flew further

During the 1950s and 1960s, the Russians launched missions that included passenger slots for at least 57 dogs. The number of animals that actually reached space is smaller, as several dogs went more than once. No monkeys or apes ever traveled into space more than once.

Russian spacedog Strelka's puppy, Pushinka, was presented to John and Jacqueline Kennedy as a gift in 1961. White house staff had her X-rayed to check for any devices before turning her over to the children to play with. Many of her descendants are alive today.

Widely newsworthy Enos the Chimp tested the Mercury craft for safety and stability in an orbit around the Earth, then John Glenn flew his orbit around the Earth. Glenn was invited to meet President Kennedy after his historic flight. Also present was an obviously unimpressed Caroline Kennedy, then aged 5, who looked up at John Glenn and demanded, "Where's the monkey?"

John Glenn never saw it coming
"Dad, tell the nice space man I'd rather meet the monkey."
(Well, technically, little miss... it was an ape.)

A biological payload record was set on April 17, 1998, when over two thousand creatures joined the seven-member crew of the Shuttle Columbia (STS-90) for a sixteen-day mission of intensive neurological testing (NEUROLAB).

On July 12, 2006, Bigelow Aerospace launched their Genesis I inflatable space module, containing experiments to be observed on camera. Mexican jumping beans (i.e. - seeds containing live moth larvae) and hissing cockroaches were aboard, making it the first private flight to launch animals into space. On June 28, 2007, Bigelow launched Genesis II, which also carried roaches, as well as harvester ants and scorpions.

Trivia Q of the day:
Anyone catch the Beagle tie-in to Archer (Scott Bakula) in the newest Star Trek flick? Go watch it again, pay particular attention to Engineer Scotty's lines when he is introduced ;)

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