The Unlucky Adventures of Astronaut Alberts


Albert II in preparation for his historic flight
Albert II in preparation for his historic flight

Six monkeys named Albert were among earth’s first astronauts.

Albert I, a rhesus monkey,  rode to over 63 km (39 mi) on a V2 rocket on June 11, 1948 . Albert died of suffocation during the flight.

Albert II flew one year later. He survived the V2 flight on June 14, 1949, but died on impact after a parachute failure. He has the distinction of becoming the first monkey in space, climbing to 134 km (83 mi).

Albert III made it to 35,000 feet (10.7 km) before dying when his V2 exploded on September 16, 1949.

Albert IV was the passenger on the last monkey V2 flight and died on impact on December 8, 1949 after another parachute failure. His flight reached 130.6 km. Alberts I, II, and IV were rhesus monkeys while Albert III was a cynomolgus monkey.

On April 18, 1951, Albert V flew on Aerobee an rocket and died due to parachute failure.

Albert VI (also known as Yorick, possibly in hopes of breaking the streak of bad luck), along with 11 mouse crewmates, became the first animals to survive rocket flight on September 20, 1951, although he died 2 hours after landing. Two of the mice also died after recovery; all of the deaths were thought to be related to stress from overheating in the sealed capsule in the New Mexico sun while awaiting the recovery team. Albert VI’s flight reached 70 km, so it did not qualify as spaceflight.

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