Have We Ever Sent a Cat to Space?

ever-sent-cat-space Credit: Antti/CC-BY-2.0

During the Space Race fervor of the mid-1900s, humans from several different countries sent a number of non-human animals into space, including a cat who flew a successful French space mission in 1963, parachuting safely back to earth at the end of her trip. According to NASA, this cat, named Félicette, made the first successful feline trip into space on a Veronique AGI sounding rocket No. 47. Her French cat astronaut successor, an unnamed cat, was not able to be recovered and died during the mission, which took place just a few days after Félicette made her groundbreaking trip.

Other animals, from monkeys to dogs and a variety of other beings, including insects and plants, have been sent into space since the first animal-manned mission in 1948. The first few animals that were sent into space were all monkeys who flew on space missions executed by the United States. The U.S. also sent mice into space on some of its earliest missions, including two white mice named Mildred and Albert. For the most part, the animals used on these early missions returned safely to earth. The Soviet Union's fledgling space program used animals on one-way rockets for its first space flights; these test animals included rabbits, mice and rats.