Thursday, January 21, 2016


JFK+50:  Volume 6, No. 1835


Wallops Island, Virginia (JFK+50) Fifty-six years ago this morning at 9:23 Eastern time, January 21, 1960, Miss Sam, a six pound rhesus monkey, lifted off successfully aboard Little Joe 1B in a test of the Mercury spacecraft.

Named after the Air Force School of Aviation Medicine, Miss Sam lifted off from here on Wallops Island.  Little Joe 1B reached an altitude of 9.3 miles and flew at a maximum velocity of 2021 miles per hour.

The eight minute and thirty-five second flight ended with the spacecraft and Miss Sam recovered in good condition in the Atlantic Ocean by a United States Marine MAG-26 helicopter crew.

According to NASA, "...theories of the perils of space flight was that humans might not be able to survive long periods of weightlessness..." so a series of tests using monkeys had been initiated in 1948.

Team Pickle says "America's tests with monkeys paved the way for larger primates, and eventually humans..."

Albert I and Albert II were launched into space in 1948 and 1949.  The first monkey to survive space flight, however, was Yorick, September 20, 1951.

Miss Sam's mate, Sam, was one of the best known "monkeynauts."  Launched on December 4, 1959, his spacecraft flew 3685 mph and attained an altitude of 51 miles.

More details on Sam and Miss Sam's missions are provided by Collect Space...

"The primary purpose...(of the) Little Joe launch vehicle was to save money using Little Joe rocket test vehicles instead of Atlas rockets.  The...Little Joe...would facilitate numerous test flights to evaluate different solutions to new and different problems pertaining to human space flight."

The most important was to address the problem of the successful escape of a flight crew from an explosion at or shortly after launch.


"A Brief History of Animals in Space,"

"Post by Steve Durst, SU 4379," Millersville, Maryland,

"Sam and Miss Sam, Early Monkeynauts," Collect Space,

"The sad story of the first monkeys in space," by Team Pickle,

Miss Sam Prepares for Space Flight
NASA Photo