Animals in Space!

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Five Amazing Animal Astronauts

Humans have a rich history of space exploration, but let's face it: we've got nothing on animals. Well before Yuri Gagarin orbited the Earth in April 1961, dozens of animals had already ventured beyond the bounds of our atmosphere, including dogs, apes, mice, rats, rabbits, and monkeys. 

As is the case in most scientific research, fruit flies led the way. On February 20th, 1947, they became the first living things (that we know of) to visit outer space, hitching a ride on a V2 rocket launched from White Sands Missile Range in New Mexico. More advanced life forms followed over the ensuing years.

It's high time we paid tribute to these animal explorers, who, at mankind's behest, paved the way for decades of spacefaring adventures. RealClearScience presents the stories of five animal astronauts.

(Image: NASA/Marshall Space Flight Center)

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