The First AstroChimp
|January 31st, 1961, Ham blasted off from Cape Canavarel becoming the world's first AstroChimp, and the first free creature in outer space. (His name was an acronym for Holloman Aero-Medical.) This famous chimp proved that it was possible for man to venture into space by taking a 16½ minute, 2000 mph ride atop an 83-foot Mercury Redstone rocket known as the MR2. Three months later the first American human, Alan Shepard, followed him into space. (The first American human to orbit the earth, John Glenn, was rewarded with a seat in the U.S. Senate. Ham's reward was an apple.)|
|After his space mission, Ham lived in the National Zoo in Washington, DC, for 17 years. Fretting animal activists worried that he languished there, a lonely superstar with a single tire hanging from his ceiling. So in 1981 Ham was moved to a zoological park in Asheboro North Carolina. There he socialized with other chimps, and found a special lady chimp to love. He was born in 1956 in the African jungle and he died, peacefully, of old age on January 19, 1983, at age 27.|
|Ham's body was shipped west, and is buried in the front lawn of the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, NM, under the first slab of natural-tone concrete poured in Otero County. His grave is marked by a bronze memorial plaque at the flag poles in the catcus garden.||
For detailed information on his mission go to Nasa's site at http://www.hq.nasa.gov/office/pao/History/SP-4201/ch10-3.htm.
Ham photo gallery, click image for larger size.