The first and only cat in space
On October 18, 1963, the staff of the French National Center for Space Research planned to send a little cat into space, named Felix. France lagged behind its Soviet and American rivals, but did not intend to go the distance in this space race.
However, on the scheduled launch day, the mischievous animal disappeared - its place was taken by a random heroine named Felisette.
Felisette found on the streets of Paris. From a small homeless kitten “astrokoshka” (as it was called in the media) has turned into a real star. On October 24, 1963, Felisette climbed to a height of 210 kilometers above the Earth on a Véronique AG1 liquid-fuel rocket.
The state of weightlessness lasted 5 minutes 2 seconds. After the flight, the rescue service found a capsule separated from the rocket with a cat 13 minutes after launch. And according to the data that was obtained after the flight, the cat felt good.
She stayed in space for only fifteen minutes and returned to her home planet as a national heroine.
After landing, scientists from the Aviation and Medical Research Education Center (English Center of Aviation and Medical Research; OCAMI) analyzed the activity of Felissett's brain. The fact that they discovered - as well as the fate of the animal itself - is not much known; According to OCAMA staff, the cat made an “invaluable contribution to the research.”
Felicetta quickly became famous, and the flight was regarded by the media as an outstanding achievement. However, the photos accompanying the publication in the press of a cat with electrodes implanted in its head caused criticism from many readers and fighters against cruelty to animals.
Unfortunately, the Felisette story has been lost in time. This may be related to the place France occupied in the space race.
“I think the whole point is that history decided to use it this way and not otherwise,” explains Robert Perlman, a historian and editor of collectSPACE. “The efforts that made human flights possible first in space and then on the moon were caused by the space race between the USA and the USSR.”
Selfless puppies, monkeys and other animals "paved the way" to the moon for the citizens of the Soviet Union and the United States. Scientists have used animals as test subjects in order to find out how the absence of gravity will affect them. If they can survive in harsh conditions, it means that this will be a man. At least they thought so.
Article about Felisette in the newspaper "The Sydney Morning Herald" (October 20, 1963)
“The dog Laika helped Yuri Gagarin to become the first man in the world to go into space. In turn, this led to the fact that Alexei Leonov was the first person to go into outer space, ”says Perlman. “The monkeys Able and Miss Baker made the heroes of John Glenn and Alan Shepard, who became the first Americans to be in space.”
France has a large-scale space program, however, according to Perlman, the French did not seek to send people into space on their own rockets. This can explain the relative mysteriousness of the story of Felisette:
“France is a partner of the European Space Agency and is directly connected with NASA and the ISS, but French astronauts, as a rule, flew into space on Russian or American rockets.It is for this reason that Felisette occupies an insignificant place in common space history [unlike American or Soviet animals]. ”
And although researchers continue to send animals (for example, mice) into space, society has largely departed from testing the effects of space conditions on domesticated animals.
“I don’t know whether scientists will send cats or dogs back into space, at least in the short term,” says Perlman. “Conducting animal tests to find out how space conditions will affect the human body is far behind — we have been sending people into space for a long time, and for long periods of time.”
“I think that pets will be in space next time when people surf their spaces for tourist or some other purpose,” says Perlman.
And although Perlman has no pets (nevertheless, he admitted that he loves cats more than dogs), according to him, Felisette “occupies a special place in the book of history”.
We should not forget about the "astrokoshka", which has reached heights inaccessible to most of us.In addition, we want to be in good relations with cats, when they inevitably capture the Martian colony Ilona Mask.
“Martian cats,” Perlman thought. - It will be interesting".
The first terrestrial organisms that visited space were the fruit flies of Drosophila. In February 1947, the Americans, using a captured German V-2 rocket, lifted them to an altitude of 109 km (the limit of space is conventionally considered to be 50 miles or about 80 km).
On October 24, France attempted to launch a second cat into space, but a launch vehicle crash occurred.
There are numerous allegations that the first representative of the species in space was the Felix cat, also launched by France. This is reflected, among other things, on several postage stamps devoted to space research. However, according to surgeon Gerard Chatelier, who was directly involved in the French space program, such a cat never existed.
In 1958, American newspapers wrote about the preparation of a cat launching into space by Brazil on January 1, 1959, but no evidence was found that the flight took place.
In 2013, Iran, after successfully launching a monkey into space, announced plans to bring the symbol of the country, the Persian cat, into space
In the course of both various manned expeditions and unmanned biosatellites, guinea pigs, rats, mice, quails, tritons, frogs, snails and some species of fish visited space.