In the early days of the world’s space programs, scientists thought it too risky to send humans into orbit so they used rats and monkeys instead. Later, national space programs graduated to cats. On October 18, 1963, the French launched a cat into space from their Colomb Bacar rocket base in the Algerian Sahara desert.
The cat didn’t go into orbit, but flew less than 15 minutes and traveled 100 miles. As part of the test flight, scientists had implanted electrodes into the cat’s brain to transmit her neurological impulses back to Earth. Upon her return, the press dubbed the space cat Felicette.
Felicette lived for another 2 or 3 months before scientists put her to sleep so they could further study the electrodes implanted in her brain. On October 24, the French launched a second cat into space, but the rocket crashed and by the time they recovered the capsule, the cat inside had died.
Other nations reportedly experimented with cats in their space program including the Soviet Union, Brazil, and even Iran. To learn more about cats in space, click here.