From spiders struggling to make webs in orbit to bats clinging to the outside of the Space Shuttle, the history of animals in space is as fascinating as it is weird. Here are some of our favorite stories.
On June 11, 1948, a rhesus monkey named Albert I become the first animal to reach space, strapped aboard a V-2 Blossom rocket that flew to a suborbital height of 83 miles (134 kilometers) above the surface. Since then, scientists have sent a dizzying assortment of living organisms to space, including dogs, apes, reptiles, insects, plants, and various microorganisms. Many animals were killed as a result of these pioneering missions. As NASA has said, they “gave their lives...in the name of technological advancement, paving the way for humanity’s many forays into space.”