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55th Anniversary of Mercury-Redstone 2 Launch
January 31, 2016
Mercury-Redstone 2 (MR-2) was the penultimate test flight of the Mercury-Redstone Launch Vehicle prior to the first crewed American space mission in Project Mercury. It was launched at 16:55 UTC on January 31, 1961 from LC-5 at Cape Canaveral, Florida. Mercury spacecraft No. 5 carried “Ham the Chimp”, a chimpanzee, on a suborbital flight, landing in the Atlantic Ocean 16 minutes and 39 seconds after launch. Monkeys had been flown into space before, but Ham was the first higher primate to test a spacecraft.
Ham the Chimp was a chimpanzee and the first hominid launched into space, on 31 January 1961, as part of America’s space program. Ham’s name is an acronym for the lab which prepared him for his historic mission — the Holloman Aerospace Medical Center, located at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.