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Project Mercury Chimp Couch (East Campus)

Before America risked any men on top of rockets, it first sent pioneering chimpanzees into space. Ham (named after the Holloman Aerospace Medical Center on Holloman AFB in New Mexico, the facility which trained him) was launched, seated in a couch like this, on the Mercury-Redstone 2 (MR-2) flight on January 31, 1961 (Alan Shepard would follow on MR-3, better known as Freedom 7 on May 5). Before John Glenn was allowed on top of his Atlas in Friendship 7 on February 20, 1962, a chimp named Enos rode Mercury-Atlas 5 (MA-5), seated in a couch like this, on November 29, 1961.

Of the two chimps, Ham was by far the most the photogenic:

Additional information about the chimp flights (and the couch) in Results of the Project Mercury Ballistic- and Orbital Chimpanzee Flights.

The photos here are from when the couch was displayed in the East Campus building.

 
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