September 5, 1862.
“In this ascent six pigeons were taken up. One was thrown out at the height of three miles, when it extended its wings and dropped like a piece of paper ; the second, at four miles, flew vigorously round and round, apparently taking a dip each time ; a third was thrown out between four and five miles, and it fell downwards as a stone.”
- Henry Tracey Coxwell
The pigeons were dropped at regular intervals to determine the effects of altitude on living creatures. The two scientists aboard the hot air balloon nearly died as they surpassed 35,000 feet.
September 16, 1949. Three miles above the White Sands Missile Range, Albert III was killed in an explosion due to a fuel leak. A total of six macaque monkeys were killed in the “Albert” missions due to suffocation, explosion, or impact after parachute failures.
May 21, 1952
Two macaque monkeys and two mice were launched 36 miles above the Earth. Scientists placed the mice in a transparent rotating drum to record their reactions on camera. One mouse was given a shelf to stabilize itself on and the other was given nothing. The mouse given a shelf quickly oriented itself and remained calm. While its counterpart was unable to orient itself, it quickly calmed down and suffered no harm.
Dr. David Simons concluded, “ a little G can go a long way in supplying helpful orientation”.
November 3, 1957
The first creature to orbit the Earth was an eleven-pound dog taken from the streets of Moscow. Laika was sent on a one way trip learn about the effects of solar radiation over the course of a week. Unfortunately, seven hours into the flight, her vitals read that she had died due to stress and overheating.
“We did not learn enough from the mission to justify the death of the dog.”
- Oleg Gazenko
October 18, 1963.
The early French space missions revolved around cat test subjects implanted with electrodes on the brain. Scientists studied the effects of zero gravity on the body and mental functions.