January 19th 1983: Ham the Chimp died

CHIMPANZEE "HAM" IN FLIGHT COUCH FOR MR-2 (MERCURY-REDSTONE2) (REF# LOD 61C-114

Ham before his flight

On this day in 1983 the first chimpanzee launched into outer space, Ham the Chimp, died. He was named for the Holloman Aerospace Medical Center in New Mexico where he was prepared for his flight. However, he was only named after his successful return to Earth as people feared the public backlash if a named chimp died on the mission. Ham was trained to operate certain parts of the craft through positive and negative reinforcements.

 

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Ham being greeted back to Earth with a handshake

He went into space in January 1961 for 16 minutes until splashing down in the Atlantic. Ham lived in zoos until he died aged 26. He has a grave in the International Space Hall of Fame in New Mexico. Ham was one of the successful examples of an animal sent into space, but others cruelly died in the process, such as the Russian dog Laika.

 

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Ham’s grave

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