This Day in History: Little Joe 1B Launches (January 21st, 1960)

By: Sean Sporman
By: Sean Sporman

For this installment of this day in history, we go back to the early days of the space program, as NASA worked to test the mercury spacecraft that would carry the first American into space.

On January 21st, 1960, Little Joe 1B lifted off from Wallops Island in Virginia. The small rocket would carry a Mercury spacecraft, but instead of a human passenger, Miss Sam, a rhesus monkey, would be onboard.

The flight would last under nine minutes and miss Sam and the mercury spacecraft would be recovered in good shape.

Several more unmanned test flights would take part before the Alan Shepard made his sub-orbital manned flight in May of 1961.

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