Animal Astronauts: A Brief History Of Dogs, Cats and Monkeys In Space

Russia plans to send monkeys to Mars, potentially adding several more creatures to the list of animal astronauts

Oct 28, 2015 at 7:27 PM ET

Russia is now training two monkeys for a mission to Mars, scheduled to launch in 2017. Although it sounds strange to send macaques to the Red Planet, Russia is continuing in the bold Space Age tradition of testing our limits on animals before we put human astronauts at risk. Monkeys flew into low Earth orbit long before we dared expose humans to microgravity, and dogs and cats braved unstable rockets decades before we even considered strapping a human to an aerodynamic explosive (that just so happens to propel shuttles into space).

Here’s a brief history of those brave animal astronauts, and their (only sometimes successful) missions that paved the way for modern space flight: