TIL Although Laika is commonly perceived as the first animal in space, this is not the case. The very first animals sent into space were fruit flies on board of a V-2 rocket launched by the US. They returned to Earth alive.

Read more: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Animals_in_space#1940s

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  1. The first animals sent into space were fruit flies aboard a U.S.-launched V-2 rocket on 20 February 1947 from White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. The purpose of the experiment was to explore the effects of radiation exposure at high altitudes. The rocket reached 109 km (68 mi) in 3 minutes 10 seconds, past both the U.S. Air Force 80 km (50 mi) and the international 100 km definitions of the boundary of space. The Blossom capsule was ejected and successfully deployed its parachute. The fruit flies were recovered alive. Other V-2 missions carried biological samples, including moss.

    In 1949 Albert II, a rhesus macaque, was the first mammal in space. He was launched in a U.S. V-2 rocket, unfortunately he died during the landing after a parachute failure. The first two mammals to survive a flight to space were two soviet dogs Tsygan and Dezik, launched in 1951.

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