Thursday, 28 May 2009

Looking Back - Monkeys Survive Space Mission

On this day in 1959, two monkeys became the first living creatures to survive a space flight. Able (pictured) a seven-pound female rhesus monkey, and Baker, a one-pound female squirrel monkey, were fired 300 miles into space in the nose cone of a Jupiter missile AM-18 from Cape Canaveral in Florida. The pair, who were weightless for nine minutes, were monitored throughout the flight for changes in their heartbeats, muscular reaction, pulse velocity, body temperature and rate of breathing. A spokesman from the Medical Research and Development Command of the US Army said the monkeys were in 'perfect condition' on their return. Data recorded throughout the flight will be analysed over the next two weeks.

The 15 minute flight reached speeds of up to 10,000 mph. The monkeys were recovered 1,500 miles away in the South Atlantic near Puerto Rico.

Although regarded as a success by space experts the mission attracted severe criticism from animal welfare groups. The American Embassy in London received protests from the League Against Cruel Sports and the Conference of Anti-Vivisection Societies, which is made up of 29 animal welfare groups. Strongest condemnation came from the League Against Cruel Sports who said, "Such action as this falls within the category of scientific devilry rather than scientific research." It added, "In the name of humanity we beg of you to drop these vile experiments."
Following their return, Able died from the effects of anesthesia given for the removal of electrodes implanted for the the historic mission. A subsequent post mortem examination revealed she had suffered no adverse effects from her flight into space. Baker survived a similar operation and lived until 1984,

The first animal sent into space was Laika, sent into orbit by the Russians, but days into the flight the dog died. Between 1957 and 1961 thirteen dogs were sent into space by the Russians, five of whom died. In 1958 an American squirrel monkey named Gordo died when a flotation device failed on landing. The first cat launched into space was Felix, who survived after being sent into space by the French. Since then animals including frogs, fish, crickets and even worms have been sent into space.

2008 Sand Castle Competition

(Click image to enlarge)
This is a sand castle from this year's competition at Harrison Hot Springs, British Columbia, Canada. They last until the weather wears them away. Harrison Hot Springs is well known for their perfect sand for building sand castles, as you can see by the picture.

Who Am I?

Today we bring you a 'Who Am I?' puzzle. Just consider the ten clues listed below and try and identify the name of our mystery celebrity.

01 I was born 26 March 1961.
02 My middle name is Jefferson.
03 I was first elected to the House of Commons in 1989.
04 I entered John Major's cabinet in 1995.
05 I became Leader of the Conservatives.
06 I was born in Rotherham, Yorkshire.
07 I spoke at the Conservative Party Conference when I was 16
08 I was President of the Oxford Union.
09 My wife's name is Ffion.
10 I resigned as Leader of the Conservative Party in 1997.

Good luck with your answer!


Fancy Restaurant
One that serves cold soup on purpose.

A banker provided by nature.

The inevitable result when the baby doesn't appreciate the strained carrots.

Appalled over how much weight you have gained.

Wildlife Pictures No.21

Hang In There! Another picture from our
Wildlife Pictures series.
(Click image to enlarge)


Do you remember when?

It took 5 minutes for the TV to warm up.

Nearly everyone's Mum was at home when they got home from school.

Nobody owned a purebred dog.

When a shilling a week was decent pocket money.

White dog poo in the street.

You only had to be home when the street lights came on.

Your Mum wore stockings that came in two pieces.

All your male teachers wore ties.

Female teachers had their hair done every day and wore high heels.

You got your windscreen cleaned, oil checked, and petrol pumped, without asking, all for free, every time.

Cereals had free toys inside them.

My New Motto