Ode to Ham

Chimpanzee "Ham" in space suit is fi...

Image via Wikipedia

More than 50 years ago on April 12, 1961, Russian Yuri Gagarin was the first person in space and to orbit the planet.

He made his historical flight in the spherical capsule of the Vostok 1 spacecraft. What a marvelous achievement this was.

He beat Americans, Alan Shepard, who less than a month later on May 5, 1961 made a suborbital flight in Freedom 7 and John Glen, who orbited the Earth in Friendship 7 on Feb. 20, 1962.

But Ham the Astro Chimp beat them all.

He made it into space a few months before Yuri on Jan. 31, 1961 in Mercury Redstone 2 spacecraft. He maneuvered levers only a few seconds slower in space than what he was trained for on Earth. Results led to Shepard’s mission a few months later.

Ham is actually an acronym for the Holloman Aerospace Medical Centre, where he received his space training. Out of 40 chimps, he was picked to go into space.

Ham was a Leo, since he was born in July, 1959. He died Jan. 19, 1983. His remains are buried at the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, New Mexico.

Ham was an inspiration to the entertainment industry. Space Chimps in 2008 was a film about sending chimps into space. The hero was Ham’s grandson Ham III.

In 2006, Animal Planet featured a documentary called Astrochimp #65. In 2001, Race to Space was a fictionalized film about sending chimps into space.

I wonder what went through the mind of Ham, when he was in space?

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About Mario Carr

Mario Carr has a Physics degree from McMaster University and hosts this blog. He is the director of public education for the Hamilton Amateur Astronomers and has helped to raise the profile of the group. He writes an astronomy column and appears on CHCH-TV to talk about the night sky. Mario is the founder of the Carr Marketing Group in Burlington, Ontario and can help with your marketing, communications, publicity and public relations needs. He can be reached at www.carrmarketinggroup.com or mariocarr@cogeco.ca.
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One Response to Ode to Ham

  1. Pingback: Soviet Space Chimp

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