Animals Lost In Space

Many animals went up, but not all returned. Who were the animals who died in space?

In 1961, we sent a man to space, Yuri Alekseyevich Gagarin, a soviet cosmonaut. He orbited the Earth on the 12th of April and successfully returned to Earth, relatively unharmed. Before that and just after animals were used to test the safety of space travel. From dogs to monkeys, chimps, and cats, humans were responsible for the deaths of a third of the animals we spent into space.

Below is a list of all the innocent animals who met with their final frontier…

Albert II

The second monkey to be sent to space, Albert II was rhesus monkey who was launched into space on June 14, 1949. He attained an altitude of 83 miles before dying upon impact.

Albert IV

Another rhesus monkey was sent into space December 12th, 1949. Albert IV was the last of the V-2 monkeys to be sent into space. He was attached to different monitoring instruments so scientists could keep an eye on vitals. His flight was successful, he survived the flight without any repercussions until impact when the monkey died.

Dezik and Lisa

The soviets sent up nine dogs in pairs between the years 1951- 1952 on R-1 series rockets. Dezik and Lisa died in September 1951; two other dogs died later after a launch failure.


The most famous dog to be blasted into space. Laika was sent up in Sputnik II in 1957. The Soviets had no survival plan for the poor pup, so was never expected to survive. The Russians claimed Laika died peacefully a week into her space adventure, however, we now know that Laika died of overheating and panic just hours into the flight.


The squirrel monkey’s maiden voyage ended in his demise after the floatation mechanism on the Jupiter Rocket malfunctioned in 1958.


Bonnie the pig-tailed monkey was set to fly around the world for 30 days in the Biosatellite III; scientists monitored his movements until the program was discontinued after nine days. Bonnie survived the flight home, only to die of a heart attack brought on by dehydration eight hours later.

“These animals performed a service to their respective countries that no human could or would have performed. They gave their lives and/or their service in the name of technological advancement, paving the way for humanity's many forays into space.” -Tara Gray, NASA.

Infographic: The history of animals used for testing in space flight.
Source All about our solar system, outer space and exploration

Lead Image: Three chimpanzees named Duane, Jim, and Chu sit strapped into spacecraft cradles at Holloman Air Force Base, New Mexico, in January 1961 —Photograph courtesy AO Photo/USAF

Related Articles

Discuss this article


Never miss a Nat Geo moment

Your email address
We use our own and third-party cookies to improve our services, personalise your advertising and remember your preferences. If you continue browsing, or click on the accept button on this banner, we understand that you accept the use of cookies on our website. For more information visit our Cookies Policy AcceptClose cookie policy overlay