It was 1973 and Nasa were keen to observe the effects of microgravity on animals that moved three dimensionally on Earth. The Soviet Union launches a female dog into space on Sputnik II. Laika’s voyage had a tragic end – her spacecraft was rushed by scientists who, determined to get into orbit before the Americans, didn’t have time to find a way to bring her home. On November 3, 1957, less than a month after they inaugurated the Space Age, the Soviet Union took the next big step with the launch of Sputnik 2. Aboard the Soviet's Sputnik 2, Laika, a dog, became the very first living creature to enter orbit on November 3, 1957. However, since the Soviets did not create a re-entry plan, Laika died in space. By the time NASA was founded in 1958, America had sent numerous hamsters, mice and monkeys into space (sadly, … Ham (July 1957 – January 19, 1983), also known as Ham the Chimp and Ham the Astrochimp, was a chimpanzee and the first hominid launched into space.On January 31, 1961, Ham flew a suborbital flight on the Mercury-Redstone 2 mission, part of the U.S. space program's Project Mercury. Image to left: Chimpanzees were one of the first mammals to travel into space Credit: NASA In the earlier days of space exploration, nobody knew if people could survive a trip away from Earth, so using animals was the best way to find out. Many animals such as monkeys, dogs and cats went up, but the very first travelers to the moon were reptiles — or to be more specific, Russian Steppe tortoises. In other words, the insects hadn't been mutated in space. On Jan. 31, 1961 — a few months before Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin’s pioneering flight — Ham became the first hominid in space. First Animal in Space November 3, 1957. https://www.rmg.co.uk/discover/explore/what-was-first-animal-space Laika (Russian: Лайка; c. 1954 – 3 November 1957) was a Soviet space dog who became one of the first animals in space, and the first animal to orbit the Earth. Laika's death sparked debates about animal rights around the world. That encouraged biologists to launch other animals on V-2 excursions. Her name is Laika, which means "barker" in Russian. 60 years ago: The First Animal in Orbit | NASA The most famous of these first animals in space by far is Laika, the Soviet space dog. In 1957, the dog became the first animal to enter the Earth’s orbit. The first aquanauts to reach space were a type of minnow found in salt marshes – the mummichog – plus 50 eggs. She lives for seven days, proving that animals (and presumably humans) can survive in space. 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