Monday, August 30, 2010

Space Animals Timeline


During my research this month, from both books and the NASA archives, I compiled an exhaustive list of all mentions of animals on space missions. I turned up more than anticipated, and far more than bargained for in terms of note-taking. Wow.

Of course, we are all most familiar with missions upon which humans were sent, but technically, these are also simply "biological packages" on board, and the goals are the same: keep the biological entity alive, and see how it reacts. Quite literally THOUSANDS of living creatures have been launched into space, and only a scant few hundred of those were human.

Life Sciences Studies
Some of the most interesting, and oddly, the least popularly known, were the three Biosatellites, carrying fruit flies, parasitic wasps, flour beetles and frog eggs, along with bacteria, amoebae, plants and fungi. Talk about upstaged by Apollo, but no one begrudges that! Their stories are quite interesting however, and I encourage everyone to go learn about:
The Orbiting Frog Otolith of 1970 and NASA Ames' Genesat of 2006 are also considered "biosatellites" –- though they were part of different programs. Each assessed the effects of space flight on living organisms, and all but BioSat 1 were successfully recovered at the end of their missions.

While I found many records of international collaboration, they were scattered and I could really only attempt a comprehensive view at the American space program's animals –- or at least the closest estimation. I haven't got access to a lot of the material from other countries, and/or they do not post informational history on their public servers.

But click and take a looksee... this list will blow your mind... =)