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Able and Miss Baker became the first monkeys to successfully return to Earth after space traveling. In 1959 NASA launched mission, which goal was to closely monitor life signs, mental state and cabin environment of these monkeys and safely return them to Earth alive.
For many years, NASA has used monkeys to study radiation exposures to animals (and humans). In order to investigate possible missions to Mars, NASA announced new sets of experiments on squirrel monkeys. Monkeys will receive a low dose of radiation.
Sam was a rhesus monkey that flew to an altitude of 88 km in 1959. During launch Sam experienced force 19 times higher than normal gravity. He did not receive any negative effect from this flight.
While USA focused its efforts mainly on short-term monkey test flights, Soviet Union’s testing with monkeys came 20 years later, where they tested long-term space influence on flights that lasted between 5 and 14 days. Read all about Russian space monkeys.