Posted in Essay, Jamie Dedes

OUR ORIGINAL ASTRONAUTS

Miss Baker

In Huntsville, Ala., there is an unusual grave site where, instead of flowers, people sometimes leave bananas.

The gravestone reads: “Miss Bakersquirrel monkey, first U.S. animal to fly in space and return alive. May 28, 1959.”

Fifty years ago, when Baker made her famous flight, she had some company in the nose cone of the Jupiter ballistic missile: a rhesus monkey named Able.MORE [National Public Radio (NPR)May 28, 2009]

OUR ORIGINAL ASTRONAUTS

by

Jamie Dedes

One day when I was looking for a photograph of a squirrel monkey to post on The Cat’s MeowI found one on Wikipedia along with a photograph of Miss Baker, one of our earliest astronauts. I hadn’t thought about our monkey astronauts in years, but I do remember reading about them as a youngster and feeling angry that they were used without having a choice in the matter. Miss Baker (an eleven-ounce Peruvian-born squirrel monkey) and her companion, Able (a seven-pound American-born rhesus), were the first to come back alive. Miss Baker lived to be twenty-seven and died of kidney failure. Able died four days after the landing. She developed an infection after having an electrode removed.  Able is preserved and on display at the Smithsonian‘s National Air and Space Museum. I find this disturbing. Am I the only one?

The U.S. wasn’t the only country to shoot animals into space. Russia and France did. The Russians and the Americans sent up mice as well as monkeys.

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A sweet little squirrel monkey

enjoying the relative freedom of the Fuji Safari Park in Japan.

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© 2011, 2012 Jamie Dedes, All rights reserved

Video uploaded to YouTube by .

Photo credits ~ Grave stone by Ms. Miserable via Find a Grave. The photo of Able on her couch in display at the National Air and Space Museum is by RadioFan (talk) under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License via Wikipedia. The monkey in Fuji Safari Park is in the public domain and via Wikipedia. Ms. Baker’s photo is in the public domain and via the U.S. Federal Governent.

Author:

The focus of "The BeZine," a publication of The Bardo Group Beguines, is on sacred space (common ground) as it is expressed through the arts. Our work covers a range of topics: spirituality, life, death, personal experience, culture, current events, history, art, and photography and film. We share work here that is representative of universal human values however differently they might be expressed in our varied religions and cultures. We feel that our art and our Internet-facilitated social connection offer a means to see one another in our simple humanity, as brothers and sisters, and not as “other.” This is a space where we hope you’ll delight in learning how much you have in common with “other” peoples. We hope that your visits here will help you to love (respect) not fear. For more see our Info/Mission Statement Page.

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