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ALGERIA 18 Oct 2013 France launched first Space cat 50 years ago

French scientists launched the first cat into Space on 18 Oct 1963. Named Felix, it was retrieved live after a parachute descent. A s

October 18, 2013 - NULL

ALGERIA 18 Oct 2013 France launched first Space cat 50 years ago

French scientists launched the first cat into Space on 18 Oct 1963. Named Felix, it was retrieved live after a parachute descent. A second feline launch six days later killed another feline - or Felix. The 50th anniversary of the launch offers opportunity for clarifying the account while exploring the contribution of the thousands of animals that have perished in Man's quest for space travel. One widely-circulated report suggests that dozens of them are still in orbit in unrecovered space craft. For activists, the anniversary is a day

ALGERIA 18 Oct 2013 France launched first Space cat 50 years ago

French scientists launched the first cat into Space on 18 Oct 1963. Named Felix, it was retrieved live after a parachute descent. A second feline launch six days later killed another feline - or Felix. The 50th anniversary of the launch offers opportunity for clarifying the account while exploring the contribution of the thousands of animals that have perished in Man's quest for space travel. One widely-circulated report suggests that dozens of them are still in orbit in unrecovered space craft. For activists, the anniversary is a day for amplifying the call for an end to all animal experiments and for establishing a universal animal rights treaty.

France's Centre d'Enseignement et de Recherches de Medecine Aeronautique (CERMA) launched Felix in the nose cone of a rocket from the Hammaguir test range in Algeria. The nose cone separated at 120 miles altitude and descended by parachute. Electrodes in the cat's brain transmitted neurological impulses to a ground station. The second cat flight, on Oct 24, failed.

Time has buried information about the specific purpose of Felix' flight, but records from NASA and the Soviet space agency reveal a plethora of animal experiments before and since Felix that were aimed at finding out if humans could survive weightlessness and the effects of high gravitational forces.

NASA's account notes that the experiments began on 11 Jun 1948 with the launch of a V-2 rocket from New Mexico that carried Albert 1, a rhesus monkey. On 14 Jun, Albert II, attained an altitude of 83 miles but died on impact. An un-anaesthetized mouse survived impact on 31 Aug in the same year. The United States launched other monkeys and mice, and on 20 Sep 1951,Yorick became the first monkey to live through a space flight.

The Soviets chose mice, rats and rabbits as one-way passengers for their initial tests. They chose dogs, finally, to obtain the data needed to design a cabin to carry a human being into Space. The most famous canine cosmonaut was Laika, blasted into Earth orbit on 3 Nov 1957 on Sputnik. She expired after a few hours, and Sputnik 2 finally burned up in the outer atmosphere in Apr 1958.

An article in HowStuffWorks.com speculates that there dozens of dead animals floating in Space because some spacecraft in which the animals flew were abandoned.

When human spaceflight began, astronauts and cosmonauts began supplying the data directly for research and the number of primates and other larger animals sent into Space decreased. The use of smaller creatures continues as "biological payloads."

Regardless of where they are conducted and how cruel, animal experiments don't raise eyebrows or hackles in the public unless they are forced into the news. Celebrity involvement - French actress Brigitte Bardot is a notable activist - and publicity events or militant activity by animal rights organizations can propel the experiments into the headlines. Organizations such as PETA in the United States and Uncaged in the United Kingdom are among the many organizations that publicize horrific experiments performed on laboratory animals. Uncaged, in particular, uses International Animal Rights Day on Dec 10 each year to publicize its quest for a Universal Declaration of Animal Rights. The organization asserts that more than 100 million animals every year suffer and die in cruel chemical, drug, food and cosmetic tests, biology lessons, medical training exercises, and curiosity-driven medical experiments. They insist that all animals - not just humans - deserve the right not to be tortured and murdered. (WRITTEN JAN 2013)

Keywords: cat in Space, launch of cat, 50th anniversary, 50 years, cat launched into Space, October 1963, animals in Space, NASA, Algeria, French scientists, France, animal experiments, animal cruelty, cruel animal experiments, Space news, Laika, Felix, animal news

RELATED READING:
Why are there dozens of dead animals floating in space? (HowStuffWorks.com)
http://science.howstuffworks.com/dead-animals-in-space1.htm

A Brief History of Animals in Space (NASA)
http://history.nasa.gov/animals.html

PETA
http://www.peta.org/issues/animals-used-for-experimentation/default2.aspx

Uncaged
http://www.uncaged.co.uk/index.html

First dog in space died within hours (BBC 28 Oct 2002)
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/science/nature/2367681.stm

Date written/update: 2013-10-18