|Death: ||Nov. 29, 1984|
Animal Figure. First US Animal, with her companion Miss Able (both names taken from alphabet phonetic words) to fly in space and return alive. Miss Baker, a squirrel monkey born in Iquito, Peru, was one of a pair of monkeys sent into space aboard a Jupiter rocket and brought safely back to earth on May 28, 1959. The flight reached an altitude of 300 miles, while traveling at speeds in excess of 10,000 miles per hour. They successfully withstood forces of 38 times the pull of gravity here on earth, and achieved weightlessness for a period of nine minutes. Their mission was the first to recover living beings following their return from space and paved the way for human space travel. They became immediate international celebrities, appearing on the cover of Life magazine for the week of June 15, 1959. She was chosen for her mission because of her tolerance for being confined in a small cylinder. She was also fitted with electrodes for the monitoring of her vital signs. She was specially outfitted for the mission and was observed to be only mildly startled at lift-off and at other times during the 15 minute flight. Immediately following recovery, the unflappable monkey was rewarded with a banana and a cracker, which she ate, and then rolled over and took a nap. She has been described as a "one pound stick of dynamite." Upon retiring from space travel, she resided at the Naval Aerospace Medical Center in Pensacola, Florida, until 1971. At the request of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center she was then transferred to Huntsville, AL. She remained there, in a temperature and humidity controlled environment especially built for her, for the remainder of her life. During those years, she succeeded in outliving her first husband, Big George, whom she had married in ceremonies conducted in Pensacola in 1962, and went on to take a second mate, named Norman. She graciously entertained all visitors to the Huntsville museum and was especially fond of children. She received daily fan mail. Her birthday was celebrated yearly with local dignitaries, press, and television commentators in attendance. She developed kidney failure which proved to be her final illness. She is buried at the entrance of the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville along with both her husbands. It is customary for children who attend the center's Space Camp to place a banana on her gravestone in her memory. At the time of her death, at 27 years of age, she was believed to be the oldest squirrel monkey ever documented. (bio by: Vincent Astor)
Big George Baker (1963 - 1979)*
United States Space And Rocket Center
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Record added: Mar 15, 2005
Find A Grave Memorial# 10621868