Ham: An American Hero Essay

1992 words - 8 pages

Space travel became extremely important for the world during the early years of the Cold War. The space race was extremely important to the United States and the Soviet Union. It had always seemed that the United States of American were going to be the first to go to space; however, on October 4, 1957, Sputnik was launched into space by the Soviet Union. The Soviet Union’s entry into space caused immense fear around the world, and further fueled America’s desire to enter space. After successfully launching artificial rockets, the focus then turned to getting humans into space. Due to the increasing interest in space travel, animals were utilized as experimental counterparts. Animals played a huge role in the cold war as the world’s most dominate countries were entering the space race. Animals were not sent into space as a stunt, but rather they were used to test if humans could survive the dangerous effects of space travel. Testing of animals was used to see if humans had the ability to function properly while they were in space. From the help of the animals used in space travel, the dreams of putting humans into outer space were made reality. America for example, relied heavily on the use of monkeys, rodents, fruit flies, and many other creatures. Most of the primates used were rhesus monkeys; however, chimpanzees were later introduced. Chimpanzees eventually began to be used more regularly since they are human’s closest relatives, sharing 98.6% of the same DNA. Some of the animals that were sent out to space would gain fame upon arrival. One of the most famous space chimps, as well as the first chimp to enter space, was known as Ham. Ham is an acronym for Holloman Aerospace Medical Center. Holloman Aerospace Medical Center is located at the Holloman Air Force Base where Ham was trained. In 1959, Ham was captured and imported from Sudan and then purchased by United States Air Force. The world was taken by storm after experiencing the courageousness of one of the United States’ greatest heroes when Ham the Astrochimp successfully completed his historic mission, thus ingraining his name in the history of space travel.
Ham began as a prospect for NASA’s Mercury Program at the Holloman Air Force Base. When Ham began his training, there were forty chimps that were evaluated for the project. The number of chimps was eventually narrowed down to the most promising six chimps. The remaining chimps were then shipped to Cape Canaveral, Florida, where Ham and the other chimps would prepare for an experimental flight. Ham began his training in July of 1959, at just three years of age. The chimps that were chosen were all young, small, active, and intelligent. The primates that planned to enter space were specially trained just as human astronauts were. LIFE magazine said, “The training of Ham and other astrochimps was a scaled-down version of the human astronauts’. After curing them of jungle diseases and parasites, a special...

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