Sure we all knowastronauts like Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and some people may even remember Laika, the first dog in space.
But do you know who the first cat in space was?
This pioneering kitty was named ”Félicette,” and she was shot into space 54 years ago this week from a base in the Sahara desert by the Centre National d’études Spatiales (CNES), the French version of NASA.
The cat that history forgot was picked out of a group of 15 cats because she had the best reaction to a series of tests that included a spin in a centrifuge, reports EuroNews.
Her 12-minute flight took her 97 miles above Earth and included five minutes of weightlessness.
Although Félicette made history with her voyage into space, she was euthanized a few months later so scientists could study the effects of space travel on her body.
Just a few days after the launch an attempt to repeat the experiment ended in tragedy when the lone feline occupant of another rocket died when the craft crashed to earth shortly after takeoff.
No cat has gone to space since.
Nevertheless Félicette was not in fact the first French animal in space. That honour belongs to Hector, a “white rat” whose mission took place on Feb 22, 1961.
The photo above was taken after Félicette returned to Earth and handed to members of the project team. It features the words: “Thank you for your participation in my successful mission of Oct 18, 1963.”
“Around 6 months ago whilst at work, I came across a tea towel in the staff kitchen commemorating the 50th anniversary of the cat who went to space,” Guy said in a release. “There was no name for the cat on the towel, nor did it resemble Félicette.
“After Googling it, I became fascinated with Félicette’s story, how it had been forgotten over the years, and (like the design of the tea towel) misattributed. It felt like something big should be done to right these wrongs.”