Tag Archives: Florida

Miss Baker, Space Monkey

The gravestone outside the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, frequently has bananas placed on it.

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The stone is a memorial to a squirrel monkey who in 1959 was one of the first two animals that were launched into space by the United States and safely returned. The monkey purchased at a pet shop in Miami, Florida, was named Miss Baker due to its docile manner during testing and monitoring to ensure its suitability to the environment of space.

Miss Baker wore a helmet lined with rubber and chamois leather plus a jacket for the launch. A respiration meter was affixed to her nose with model cement, and she was fitted into a snug capsule of shoebox size insulated with rubber and fiberglass. Life support was an oxygen bottle with a pressure valve, and lithium hydroxide to absorb exhaled carbon dioxide and moisture. One cannot imagine the terror that animal endured.

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On May 28, 1959, Miss Baker and her companion Miss Able rocketed to an altitude of 300 miles for a 16-minute flight which also included 9 minutes of weightlessness. The capsule was recovered near Puerto Rico.

Thereafter Miss Baker lived at the Naval Aerospace Medical Center in Pensacola, Florida until 1971 when she was moved to the U.S. Space & Rocket Center in Huntsville where she entertained museum visitors.

Miss Baker died of kidney failure in 1984 at a clinic at Auburn University after attaining the record for oldest living squirrel monkey.

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