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Sam - Monkey Who Tested Space Travel

Sam - Monkey Who Tested Space Travel  American History Famous Historical Events Aviation & Space Exploration STEM Visual Arts

This image depicts Sam, a monkey who traveled to space during an American space launch.

NASA tells us more about Sam (and this photograph):

Sam, a rhesus monkey, was one of the most well known monkeys of the space program. His name was an acronym for the U.S. Air Force School of Aviation Medicine at Brooks Air Force Base, Texas.

It was December of 1959. Why was Sam going to space?

The purpose of Sam’s mission was to test the escape-system in the launch craft.  Around 60 seconds into the flight, Sam (and his capsule) were ejected from the rocket.  They soared about 51 miles (82 km) above Earth, then landed in the Atlantic Ocean. 

According to NASA:

He was launched on December 4, 1959, housed in a cylindrical capsule within the Mercury spacecraft atop a Little Joe rocket in order to test the launch escape system (LES).

Approximately one minute into the flight, traveling at a speed of 3685 mph, the Mercury capsule aborted from the Little Joe launch vehicle.  After attaining an altitude of 51 miles, the spacecraft landed safely in the Atlantic Ocean.

Sam wasn’t injured during his role for the mission. 

He was returned to a training colony where he lived for nearly twenty more years.  Sam died in 1982:

Sam was recovered, several hours later, with no ill effects from his journey.

He was later returned to the colony in which he trained, where he died in November 1982 and his remains were cremated.

See NASA's story about Sam, containing the above quotes, at "A Brief History of Animals in Space."

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Author: Carole D. Bos, J.D. 5183stories and lessons created

Original Release: Oct 07, 2013

Updated Last Revision: Nov 22, 2019


Media Credits

Image online, courtesy NASA (Johnson Space Center); NASA ID B60-00036

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"Sam - Monkey Who Tested Space Travel " AwesomeStories.com. Oct 07, 2013. Nov 22, 2019.
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