Monkeys and dogs were not the first earthlings in space. In 1947, the United States sent fruit flies into orbit, making them the first living things to travel in space. But in 1961, Ham became the first hominid in space when he was secured into a Mercury Redstone rocket for suborbital flight.
NASA notes that Ham’s mission paved the way for the first successful launch of an American astronaut, Alan Shepard. Ham retired after his mission and lived alone at the Washington Zoo until 1980.
Ham died in 1983 and although his skeleton was retained for continuous study by the U.S. Air Force, the rest of his remains were laid to rest at the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, N.M.