Before Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human in space in 1961, there were the animals. The first astronauts to break through Earth’s atmosphere had no understanding of what they were doing. They were dogs and monkeys, strapped into rockets and blasted out of the world they knew – often, never to return.
Animals were part of the space race from the very start. Since 1947, when the United States put fruit flies into a Nazi V-2 Rocket and fired them 100km into the air, animals helped in getting humankind into space. They unwittingly risked things that no human would then dare and made the dream of human space travel a reality.