The First Primate in Space Was Drugged and Strapped into a Nazi-Designed Rocket

Brights - Die Natur des Zweifels

Albert II in his capsule. Image: NASA

On June 14, 1949, Albert II became the first primate to visit outer space, paving the way for human spaceflight.

By Becky Ferreira | MOTHERBOARD

On June 14, 1949, a drugged-up rhesus monkey named Albert II was buckled into a Nazi-designed missile at an airfield in White Sands, New Mexico. Called the Blossom V-2 rocket, the vehicle was a beefier version of the weapon Hitler had deployed only five years previously, in blitzes against Allied cities like London, Antwerp, and Liège.

But on that Tuesday 68 years ago, the rocket—swiftly adopted by the United States, along with its German developers—served a radically different purpose. After a successful lift-off, the Blossom V-2 propelled Albert II to an altitude of 83 miles (134 kilometers), making him the first primate ever to visit outer space, and thus paving the way for human spaceflight.

Sadly, Albert…

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