Space exploration: Have animals been to space?

Did You Know: Space – Have animals been to space?

It’s not just people who have explored space—animals were sent there first!

They helped us understand about the effects of space travel on living things.

Fruit flies

The first animals to travel into space were fruit flies in 1947. Scientists wanted to discover if space would harm the flies.


In 1950, American scientists sent a mouse into space. They wanted to understand more about how living creatures cope in space.


A chimpanzee named Ham was four years old when he was blasted into space in 1961. He spent 16 minutes there before his reentry capsule splashed back down in the Atlantic Ocean.


In 1966, Russian scientists sent two dogs, called Veterok (left) and Ugolyok, into space together. The dogs orbited the Earth in their spacecraft Cosmos 110 for 22 days, before returning safely.


Two spiders, Anita and Arabella, were taken into space in 1973 to see if they could still make webs. The spiders soon got used to being weightless and spun their webs.


One of the most famous animal space explorers was a Russian dog called Laika. In 1957, she became the first animal to orbit the Earth. Her journey paved the way for human spaceflight.