Who was the primate that the Americans launched into space in 1961, and was the first great ape to reach earth orbit?
While the Russians were busy using dogs to study space conditions. The Americans focused on using primates. Even before they were actually able to send one into actual space and earth orbit, a lot of monkeys were already being used in rocket tests.
And the first one to actually reach earth’s orbit was a chimpanzee named Ham; on the Mercury-Redstone 2 mission. He reached an apogee of 253 km, in a flight that lasted 16 minutes and 39 seconds. He survived the mission with only a bruised nose.