This Day in History: Mercury Atlas V (MA-5) Launched - 11/29/1961

By: Sean Sporman
By: Sean Sporman

On this day in history we're going back to the very early days of the race to put a man in space.

The Mercury program would eventually send the first American into space, but before humans ventured into the final frontier, animals did instead, including Enos the chimp.

Enos was launched into space on November 29th, 1961 on the Mercury Atlas V (MA-5) mission.

The flight would study space's effects on a mammal most similar to humans, including the still-mostly-unknown effects of radiation not filtered by earth's atmosphere.

The Mercury spacecraft made two complete orbits around the earth.

Despite some technical problems with temperature and attitude control, the craft splashed down in the Pacific Ocean successfully and tests afterward showed no lasting ill effects from the spaceflight.

That would be the last un-manned Mercury orbital launch, in February of 1962, John Glenn would be the first American to orbit the earth.

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