The First Cat in Space Will Receive a Proper Memorial

There have been several animals that have gone up into space over the years, and if you can recall any names, you probably most remember the names, Ham the chimpanzee and Laika the dog. But there is a feline who has helped traverse the space program to what it is today and she is not as recognized as some of the others. Because of that, there has been a new Kickstarter campaign that is intended to change this.

It was October 18, 1963 when a French cat, by the name of Felicette who became the only cat who ever traveled to outer space. She flew approximately 100 miles above the earth aboard the Veronique AG1 rocket and for a brief time, she got to experience the feeling of weightlessness. The rocket she was on, soared up to six times the speed of sound, which exposed her to a g-force of 9.5 before she returned to earth about fifteen minutes later and parachuted down safe and secure in her snug little space capsule. It was then that the little stray tuxedo-patterned cat who had just before this, been running the streets of Paris, became an instant celebrity.

Although Felicette made big news at the moment, she was soon superseded by other, more notorious animal space-goers, dogs, monkeys and chimpanzees, all who took to space on their own adventures in the 1960’s. A page in the Kickstarter reads: “Over the last 54 years, the story of the first and only cat to go to space has been largely forgotten. She deserves a proper memorial.”

You can help to immortalize the brave and incredible feline by helping to fund a shiny, bronze statue of Felicette that is set to be erected in Paris, France, Felicette’s hometown.
When you donate to this cause, you will receive a reward, and what you get will depend on how much you contribute. Rewards include, “autographed” postcards (with Félicette’s actual pawprint), tote bags, enamel pin badges, and printed photographs of Félicette. For the biggest donors, they’re names will be engraved on a plaque by the statue, plus they will be sent a small replica of the statue.
Other animals who’ve flown into space have their own memorials. For one, the first chimp to fly into space is buried at the International Space Hall of Fame, and the first dog was immortalized in bronze. But the first cat, she has nothing to commemorate her flight and contribution to the space program. Although Félicette may have made headlines back in the day, and they are available to read if you locate the old archived newspapers. But as far as a memorial goes, there is not a permanent one for this cosmic cat.
The furry feline known as Felicette was one out of 14 cats chosen by the French space program to get spaceflight training, and though she didn’t volunteer to participate, what she did for the French space program was huge. It was a big milestone for the program that had just acquired the world’s third civilian space agency (following just behind the U.S. and the Soviet Union). It was this kitty’s mission that helped propel France forward, gaining a pertinent place in the space race.

During those years, scientists were studying how the lack of gravity affected animals. They had a theory that if animals could make it to space and survive, then humans should be able to do the same. As a matter-of-fact, the cats that went through the training, actually trained as intently as human astronauts. The training the cats were put through included the same centrifuge training that the human astronauts go through during pre-flight training. The cats were also subjected to electrodes being implanted into their brains, which gave scientists the ability to monitor the neurological activity of each cat.

In the end, it was Felicette who was the chosen one for this mission, and one story is that she was chosen due to her calm nature that gave her the leg up. Another story is that Felicette was really the backup cat, second chosen after another cat named Felix, who had escaped on the day of the scheduled flight. And a third explanation as to why she was chosen, claims it was due to the fact that all the other cats had put on too much weight. But no matter why she was chosen, the fact that she is the one that made the flight, is all that is important.

Not only has Felicette been forgotten over the years, but her memory has also been blurred in a series of commemorative stamps that assumed she was a male cat by the name of Felix. There has always been a misconception that only men are leaders in the field of science and engineering, and apparently this applies to cats too. And it has been said that because of this, she really does deserve her rightful recognition.


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