Infographic: Animals That Explored Space

In 1957, Sputnik 2 spacecraft carried Laika, a dog, into orbit around the Earth, making it the first animal to explore space physically.

Before humans had the opportunity to make space trips, animal astronauts were sent up to test the safety of the mission. These experiments were conducted by scientists to ensure that the journey would be safe for humans.

Although the idea may seem harsh, non-animal crafts were sent up first to test the waters. Since then, various animals such as felines, reptiles, primates, and spiders have also become astronauts.

The infographic below created by Atlas Obscura highlights some of the most popular animal astronauts of all time.

Despite some missions ending in disaster, we salute the animal astronauts who made it possible for humans to explore the depths of space.

Animal Astronauts

What animal will be next to explore space? Only time will tell.


1. Which animal was the first to go to space?

The first animal to go to space was a stray dog named Laika, who was launched into orbit by the Soviet Union in 1957. Unfortunately, Laika did not survive the mission, as the technology to bring her back to Earth had not yet been developed.

2. How many animals have been sent to space?

According to NASA, over 50 different animals have been sent to space, including dogs, monkeys, mice, rats, rabbits, cats, fish, and even insects.

3. Which animal has spent the most time in space?

The record for the animal that has spent the most time in space goes to a Russian dog named Belka, who spent a total of 22 days in orbit in 1960.

4. Have any animals given birth in space?

No, no animals have given birth in space. However, several female animals have been sent to space while pregnant, and their offspring were born healthy after returning to Earth.

5. How do animals adapt to the conditions of space?

Animals adapt to the conditions of space in different ways depending on the species. For example, dogs and monkeys are trained to withstand the G-forces of launch and the weightlessness of orbit, while fish and insects are used to study the effects of microgravity on their behavior and physiology.

6. Do animals experience space sickness?

Yes, animals can experience space sickness just like humans. Symptoms can include nausea, vomiting, and disorientation. However, animals are typically able to recover quickly from space sickness once they return to Earth.

7. What is the purpose of sending animals to space?

The purpose of sending animals to space is to study the effects of spaceflight on living organisms and to test new technologies and equipment. Animals have been used to study everything from the effects of microgravity on bone and muscle mass to the development of new life support systems for long-duration space missions.

8. Are animals still being sent to space today?

While the use of animals in space research has become increasingly rare in recent years, some countries still send animals to space for scientific purposes. For example, in 2019, China sent several mice, fruit flies, and silkworms to its space station to study the effects of microgravity on their development and behavior.

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