Surprising Animal Astronauts We’ve Launched Into Space

A small step for man, but a great leap for humanity. This phrase from Neil Armstrong, the first man to walk on the moon, is engraved in the memory and hearts of all humanity. But, before Neil inspired us all with his great feet, many brave animals also left their mark on our planet. The animals managed to conquer zero gravity before man did, and space organizations are still relying on animal astronauts to be launched into space.

Do you want to know which animals have gone to space? stay here to discover, all the wonderful things our furry friends can accomplish when they are sent to conquer the universe. Get ready to meet the coolest astronaut animals!

11 The Guinea Pigs


These little furry ones that you have surely seen as pets spinning on a wheel, were able to travel into space. On March 9, 1961 the first guinea pig flew into space on Sputnik 9, and it was not alone, he was in the company of Chernushka, a canine.  Plus, several mice and reptiles. Last but not least, Ivan Ivanovich, a cosmonaut doll. The mission was a complete success.  Ivan, Chernushka, and the guinea pig, returned to earth alive.

11 Fruit Flies, The First Animals In Space


Flies are insects that abound on the planet.  But, can you imagine them traveling in space? That's right. Fruit Flies were the first animals to be sent into space. This happened on February 20, 1947, on a V-2 type rocket, from White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. Fruit flies were sent to explore the effects of radiation exposure in space. The flies, managed to be recovered alive on a successful mission.

10 Mice Are Used To Conduct Experiments In Space


Mice may be small and elusive, but they can also become really important and useful animals. Small rodents are pets for some, and pests for others, but they also help scientists in very important experiments and tests. In 2001, biomedical engineer Ted Bateman, in collaboration with NASA, sent a mouse into space to test a protein called osteoprotegerin, that stops age-weakening of bones. Why was it necessary to send it into space? because in space, the aging process is accelerated and thus the results are much faster. The protein worked and the little mouse was responsible for promoting more experiments and studies to prevent osteoporosis. Hooray for this little friend!

9 The BullFrogs and Motion Sickness


An animal that surely you do not expect that traveled to space is the frog. It turns out that, on November 9, 1970 NASA sent two bullfrogs into orbit, with the aim of studying reactions to lack of gravity. This study was called Oroliting Frog Otolith (OFO), due to the balancing mechanism that frogs possess in their inner ear. This operation was a complete success and the two bullfrogs returned to earth alive and without any complications.

8 The Turtles That Survived A Trip To Space


Turtles may be very slow, but that doesn't mean they can't go far, as far as outer space. In the Soviet Union in 1968, two turtles undertook their space mission aboard the ship Zond 5. The ship took off on September 15, on the 18th of the same month managed to make a complete turn of the moon and landed again on earth on September 21st. The turtles suffered no serious consequences on their journey, only a small weight loss and nothing else, they arrived safe and sound. Thus, the slowest astronauts in the world became the first animals to orbit the moon.

7 Fish In Space


Fish have already conquered the depths of the ocean, and now they have conquered the depths of outer space. In 2012 the Japanese HTV-3 spacecraft arrived at the International Space Station with an aquarium called "medaka." Full of cute fish inside. These aquatic animals were used for experiments and were found to be perfect for the job because of their transparent skin that allowed scientists to see their organs clearly. These scientists wanted to see the effects of the gravity changes on the fish, so they tested them to see if they had any degradation in their bones or muscle atrophy. The rarest effect the fish had was a change in their behavior, as they began to swim in circles and not in straight lines. Poor little friends.

6 Felix, The First Cat In Space


One would not believe that a being as adorable and sleepy as the cat, was capable of being a space traveler. This happened on October 18, 1963, on a mission carried out by the French. The cat in question was named Felix, a black and white street cat, who was found on the streets of Paris. It was purchased by the French government for the project, being selected from 14 cats. On his first trip he was successful, but on his second mission, Felix lost his life. A few years ago, Iran confirmed its plans to reach space, claiming that it wants a Persian cat as its first mission.

5 Ham, The First Chimpanzee In Space


What is the most human-like animal that can travel into space? The chimpanzee Ham was captured from his wild state in Cameroon in 1959. Unfortunately, he was trained in an aggressive way with positive and negative reinforcements. Ham was tricked into his favorite food, the banana, and in case he ignored it, he received an electric shock. His journey into space was called Mercury-Redstone 2, which took place on January 31, 1961 in Cape Canaveral, Florida. Even though his mission was flawed, his suit protected him and kept him alive. He lived happily until he was 26 at the North Carolina Zoo. Where he was given kindness and love, no more electric shocks!

4 The Salamanders

CC BY-SA 3.0,
CC BY-SA 3.0,

Salamanders are very special amphibians because they can regenerate any limb of their body after losing it. This incredible ability, allowed 10 gallipato salamanders to make a trip to outer space in 1985 on the Bion 7 mission. The reason these creatures managed to become astronauts, was the need to observe how quickly they could regenerate in space... The bad news is that salamanders lost several limbs from the experiment, the good news, is that they were able to regenerate their little feet much faster in space than on earth.

3 Laika The Dog, The First Animal To Orbit The Earth


We all love dogs, they are faithful, fun and very adorable. A puppy can have many jobs, there are guide dogs, police dogs and even astronaut dogs. Laika, our furry heroine, was launched into space in 1957 aboard Russia's Sputnik 2 spacecraft. This brave little Russian dog, became the first animal to orbit the earth, long before humans set foot off our planet. Unfortunately, Laika could not survive the intense conditions of outer space, since at that time the technology was not advanced enough for any creature to survive more than a few hours in space. Although Laika is no longer with us, she will always be in our memories as the first living creature to conquer space.

2 Spiders


Spiders can be fearsome despite their size, but they have managed to conquer space with their 8 legs. In 1973, Arabella and Anita, two European garden spiders, traveled into space on the Skylab 3 mission. These space spiders grew out of the idea of ​​Judy Miles, a student interested in learning how this arachnid would react to space flight and lack of gravity.  Arabella and Anita managed to spin webs in space, it took longer than normal, and some irregularities were noted in their process. Shortly thereafter, space webs were found to be of better quality due to thickness. But unfortunately, Arabella and Anita died of dehydration, and their bodies are exhibited in the Smithsonian museum located in Washington D.C.

1 The Monkeys Sent Into Space

Animal Astronauts

Monkeys and humans have something else in common, we have traveled to space. Squirrel monkeys, macaques and Rhesus monkeys are species that have been able to see the depths of space. The Rhesus monkey is known for its intelligence and is known to be the first primate to be cloned. Albert II, a Rhesus monkey, was the first space monkey, after his predecessor Albert I sadly drowned during his mission. And the tragedy spread through Alberts III, IV, V and VI. Countries like Argentina, France and Russia, have used monkeys to embark space missions, but sadly many of them do not survive.


You already realized that humans are not the only creatures in the world that can be astronauts, and dream of conquering other planets and universes. Animals have been sent to conquer the universe long before humans, and have helped us understand the consequences of space travel. Although, some of these animals have lost their lives on their missions, they are heroes who allowed us to go further than we ever imagined. We owe it to them that human beings can travel to space with much more security and return home safe and sound.

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