aerospace medic

“And in December, while I do not regard our mastery of space as anywhere near complete, while I recognize that there are still areas where we are behind — at least in one area, the size of the booster — this year I hope the United States will be ahead.”

From President John F. Kennedy’s speech at the Dedication of the Aerospace Medical Health Center in San Antonio, November 21, 1963.

President Kennedy regarded the success of the Saturn I SA-5 heavy booster, a major milestone to the mighty Saturn V, as the moment where the United States would overtake the lead the USSR has held since the launch of Sputnik, in October 1957. 

The President would be assassinated the following day. The first Saturn I SA-5 would successfully launch on January 29th, 1964. 

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January 19th 1983: Ham the Chimp died

On this day in 1983, the first chimpanzee launched into outer space, Ham the Chimp, died. Ham was named for the Holloman Aerospace Medical Center in New Mexico where he was prepared for his flight. However, he was only named after his successful return to Earth, as officals feared the public backlash if a beloved named chimp died on the mission. Ham was trained to operate certain parts of the craft through positive and negative reinforcements, and made his historic flight into space in January 1961. The chimp was in space for sixteen minutes, and then splashed down in the Atlantic. Ham became a celebrated icon and lived in zoos until he died aged 26. Ham is memorialised by a grave in the International Space Hall of Fame in New Mexico.