During the early days of space research, a group of chimpanzees known as the Air Force chimps paved the way for scientists’ understanding of our cosmos.
And on January 13, 1961, one Air Force chimp named Ham became the first chimpanzee to ever travel to space.
Ham was born in Cameroon, West Africa, in 1957 before being captured and brought to the Miami Rare Bird Farm in Florida.
Then, in 1959, Ham was selected to be trained for space flight via Project Mercury.
So, he was transferred to the Hollomon Air Force Base in New Mexico before undergoing an eighteen-month training period.
Ham’s training consisted of habit-building, such as getting him accustomed to sitting in a chair for long periods of time, as well as operation instruction.
In particular, Ham was trained to activate levers inside his space module called a “couch.”
And throughout his training, Ham blew researchers away. They ended up selecting him to be the first chimpanzee to travel into space in order to test space flight’s safety on ape bodies.
NASA, Public domain, via Wikimedia Commons; pictured above is Ham