Seven-pound Rhesus monkey "Sam" was launched in a rocket capsule to an altitude of about 55 miles from Wallops Island, Virginia, U.
Seven-pound Rhesus monkey "Sam" was launched in a rocket capsule to an altitude of about 55 miles from Wallops Island, Virginia, U.S.A., December 4, and returned seven hours later to be recovered in good condition from a position 200 miles out in the Atlantic.
Part of the U.S. 'Project Mercury' programme, the launching was intended mainly to test emergency escape equipment of the Mercury satellite in which a man will be put into orbit in a year or two, Besides Sam, the rocket contained nerve cells of a rat, bacteria cultures, flour beetle eggs and larvae.
When the rocket reached an altitude of about 20 miles, an escape rocket lifted the capsule away from the booster and carried it another 35 miles up before releasing it. At 20,000 ft, the re-called drogue parachute opened to bring the capsule gently down into the sea, where it was picked up by the United States destroyer 'Borie'.
The National Aeronautics and Space Administration said Sam was "alive", kicking and happy". Although not the first monkey to be launched by the United States, Sam was the first to test the Mercury escape mechanism. Last May two monkeys, named Able and Baker, made successful space flights. Able died later after an operation, Baker is still alive.