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Launch Complex 26 Blockhouse Gallery


Another exhibit in the General Purpose Room is a Project Mercury chimp couch display.

The accompanying sign reads

Chimpanzee Couch


Mercury-Atlas Test Flights

Before man travelled in spacecraft, scientists sent monkeys on space flights to test the effects of noise, acceleration, vibration, re-entry, and zero gravity. Monkeys and chimpanzees were selected for these tests due to their physical similarities to man.

A chimpanzee named "Ham" flew on the first U.S. Mercury-Redstone space flight in a couch just like the one on display. The couch was placed in a Mercury space capsule attached to a Redstone missile and launched into sub-orbital flight. Sub-orbital means it did not make a complete revolution around the earth. That flight and several similar experiments were successful, and manned flight followed shortly after.

On May 5, 1961, Navy Commander Alan B. Shepard, Jr., America's first astronaut, was launched into space in the Mercury capsule "Freedom 7" for a 15-minute, 115-mile high sub-orbital flight.

Time picture taken Tue Jun 7 12:43:20 2005
Location picture taken Air Force Space and Missile Museum
Then and Now Tour
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