What was the first animal in space?

Question inspired by the quiz master at the Star Inn getting the answer wrong!

If you're thinking 'a dog,' you're wrong. If you're thinking 'a monkey,'... you're also wrong.


It wasn't a dog
This was one of the questions we had to answer in a local pub quiz* not long ago, and the quizmaster's answer was incorrect, which is what prompted me to make this post. The answer that bagged the points was "a dog," by which I assume he meant Laika, who was launched into space in November 1957 aboard the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2. Laika was the first animal to be launched into orbit around the Earth, and soon afterwards became the first animal to die in Earth orbit.

But Laika was definitely not the first animal in space.


It wasn't a monkey, either

The first monkey in space was a Rhesus monkey named Albert II (the original Albert's mission failed). He was sent up in a V2 rocket launched by the U.S. in June 1949, earlier than Laika.

But Albert II was not the first animal in space.


So what was the first animal in space?

In 1947 the U.S. launched a V2 rocket to an altitude of about 100 miles. This is generally considered to be 'the edge of space'. The rocket contained, among other things, a number of fruit flies. These were not, as far as I have been able to research, individually named, but were the first animals to be launched into space.


More info




Have a question about this topic? Comment below! Got an astronomy related question of your own? Ask it here.



*It was at the Star Inn, Geddington, Northamptonshire, if you're interested

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