“Significance of Animals in Space Exploration and the Role of Animals in Paving the Way for Human Space Travel”

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Significance of Animals in Space Exploration
Laika the Soviet space dog (image source: theguardian.com)

The space journey of humans has been mesmerizing. Due to our current technological advancements, we are now searching for exoplanets. We are also attempting to send missions beyond our solar system. But how did we come so far? This didn’t happen overnight or due to a single person or event. It is the contributions and sacrifices of many that have paved the way for space exploration.

There was a time when humans didn’t even know that they could fly an airplane. But as time progressed, we became more advanced. We developed various technologies, including spacecraft (used to carry humans or cargo to space). Initially, who wanted to venture into the dark void of space? People pondered the risk to human life and decided to send something that couldn’t speak: animals. Yes, without animal experiments in space, we might have been much later in sending humans.

Animals played a crucial role in preparing the path for human space travel. After sending animals into space and conducting numerous experiments, scientists were able to solve many variables. Once everything was thoroughly tested, we began sending humans into space and even established space stations. However, these achievements came at the cost of countless lives, including the sacrifices of animals. Let’s not forget these animals who gave their lives for space missions.

Why were animals sent ahead of humans? The answer is simple: to assess our technological advancements. We needed to determine if we could survive in space, if spacecraft could carry humans for extended periods, and whether it was truly safe. Questions about how to return to Earth also needed answers. Many of these questions remained unanswered at the time, leading scientists to experiment with animals first.

Various species have been sent to space to further our understanding. Dogs, monkeys, cats, frogs, ants, jellyfish, rabbits, mice, quail eggs, and many others have been part of these missions. More than 30 monkeys have been sent to space.

The first animals launched into space were fruit flies by the USA in 1947. The first mammal to reach space was a rhesus monkey named Albert II, launched by NASA on June 14, 1949, although he tragically perished during the mission.

During the Cold War era, a space race between the bipolar powers had commenced. The US sent monkeys to space, while the USSR used dogs. Laika, a female dog, was the first animal to orbit Earth, launched by the Soviet Union in 1957. Tragically, Laika died in orbit due to overheating.

Other animal missions followed suit. Tsygan and Dezik were the first dogs launched into space by the USSR, although they didn’t orbit Earth. In 1960, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 5, with two dogs that orbited Earth and landed safely. Their names were Strelka and Belka. In 1961, Ham, a chimpanzee, became the first of his kind to fly in space. In 1963, France sent the first cat into space, named Felicette. France also launched two monkeys in 1967. In 1968, two tortoises became the first animals to fly near the Moon, launched by the Soviet Zond 5 mission. This marked the first successful mission around the Moon.

The importance of these missions and the sacrifices made are truly beyond explanation. They have greatly contributed to our understanding of space.

Read More: Animal in space

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