|Cats in simulated spacesuits [NASA archive]|
Among many animal which have been sent to space, only French have sent a cat. Events that led to that launch happened in early 1960’s when French government obtained numerous cats and put them to initial tests. Cats were conditioned to live in small and enclosed spaces, they were suited in special spacesuits witch monitored their health conditions and were subjugated to various tests that would simulate launch and reentry conditions (compression chambers, centrifuges and rocket propelled sleds).
In mid October 1963 everything was ready. Male cat called Felix was chosen to undertake first mission but on the day of the launch this soon to be space cat managed to escape! His replacement was a female cat Félicette which was launched on 18 October 1963 riding the French Véronique AG1 rocket from Algerian Sahara desert rocket base. During her 15 minutes long flight she reached the altitude of 130 miles and safely returned to Earth alive. On 24 October French sent another cat into space but this time they recovered capsule two days late and unknown astronaut cat was already dead by then.
Félix and Félicette remained remembered in France and they appeared on several stamp collections during the years.