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Monkeynauts: Monkey Astronauts

Monkeynauts are monkeys that were sent into space. The first monkey in sub-orbital space was a squirrel monkey called Gordo. Gordo was launched into space on December 13, 1958, in the nose cone of a US Army Jupiter AM-13 rocket. Gordo did well in the flight, but drowned in the Atlantic Ocean when the flotation device on the nose cone failed and it sank.

The next two monkeys in space, Able and Baker, were launched on May 28, 1959 (aboard a Jupiter AM-18 rocket). Able was a 7-pound (3.18-kilogram) rhesus monkey, and Baker was a 11-ounce (311.9-gram) squirrel monkey. They were both successfully retrieved after a 300-mile sub-orbital flight that took 16 minutes. Able died four days after the flight from a reaction to the anesthetic given during post-flight surgery. Baker died of kidney failure 25 years after the flight (on Nov. 29, 1984), at the age of 27.

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