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Updated: May 20, 2024

On August 19, 1960, Sputnik 5 ( also known as Korabl-Sputnik 2 ) carried the dogs Belka and Strelka. It was the first spacecraft to carry animals into orbit and return them alive. One of Strelka's pups, Pushinka, bred and born after her mission, was given as a present to Caroline Kennedy by Nikita Khrushchev in 1961, and many descendants are known to exist.

The USA sent 3 black mice Sally, Amy and Moe 1,000 km up and 8,000 km distance from Cape Canaveral on 13 Oct 1960 using an Atlas D 71D launch vehicle. The mice were retrieved from the nosecone near Ascension Island and were said to be in good condition.

On January 31, 1961, Ham the Chimp was launched in a Mercury capsule aboard a Redstone rocket. His mission was Mercury-Redstone 2. The chimp had been trained to pull levers to receive rewards of banana pellets and avoid electric shocks. His flight demonstrated the ability to perform tasks during spaceflight. A little over 3 months later the United States sent Alan Shepard into space. Enos the chimp became the first chimpanzee in orbit on November 29, 1961, in another Mercury capsule, an Atlas rocket, Mercury-Atlas 5.

The Soviet Union in the Vostok 3A flights of March 1961 launched mice and, for the first time, guinea pigs and frogs.

France flew the first rat ( Hector ) into space on February 22, 1961. Two more rats were flown in October 1962.

France planned to launch Felix the astronaut cat into space on October 18, 1963, but Felix escaped so they chose another cat, F licette. The cat had electrodes implanted into her head to measure neural impulses. F licette was recovered alive, but, due to an accident, the next cat in space was not. The final French animal launches were of two monkeys in March 1967.

China launched mice and rats in 1964 and 1965, and two dogs in 1966.

During the Voskhod program, two Russian space dogs, Veterok ( ?, Little Wind ) and Ugolyok ( ?, Blackie ), were launched on February 22, 1966, on board Cosmos 110 and spent 22 days in orbit before landing on March 16. This spaceflight of record-breaking duration was not surpassed by humans until Skylab 2 in 1974 and still stands as the longest space flight by dogs.

The United States launched Biosatellite I in 1966 and Biosatellite I / II in 1967 with fruit flies, parasitic wasps, flour beetles and frog eggs, along with bacteria, amoebae, plants and fungi.

On April 11, 1967, Argentina also launched the rat Belisario, atop an Orion II rocket[citation needed], from Cordoba military range, which was recovered successfully. This flight was followed by a series of subsequent flights using rats. It is unclear if any Argentinean biological flights passed the 100 km limit of space.

The first tortoise in space was launched September 14, 1968 by the Soviet Union. The Horsfield's tortoise was sent on a circumlunar voyage along with wine flies, meal worms and other biological specimens. These were the first animals in deep space. The capsule was recovered at sea on September 21.

The United States launched the monkey Bonny, a macaque, in 1969 on the first multi-day primate mission; it was one of four U.S. monkey missions in the 1960s.

In total in the 1950s and 1960s, the Soviet Union launched missions with passenger slots for at least 57 dogs. The actual number of dogs in space is smaller, because some dogs flew more than once.

On December 23, 1969, as part of the 'Operaci n Navidad' ( Operation Christmas ), Argentina launched Juan ( a cai monkey, native of Argentina's Misiones Province ) using a two-stage Rigel 04 rocket. It ascended only up to 60 kilometers and then was recovered successfully. Later, on the February 1, 1970 the experience was repeated with a female monkey of the same species using a X-1 Panther rocket. Although it reached a higher altitude than its predecessor, it was lost after the capsule's parachute failed.

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