It seems that first rabbit was launched into space around 1959. There are differences in sources (Wikipedia, Korabl-Sputnik 2, does not mention rabbits) but it appears several rabbits have been launched into space. As prey animals rabbits are not built as tough as dogs and cats, they don't take physical abuse well.

Have rabbits been launched into space without notable injury? If so how were they secured for the trip?

Note: To qualify as "without notable injury" the live rabbit would need to be examined, in space or on the ground.


  • $\begingroup$ You mean so they're not literally scared to death during launch? I think they're mildly sedated for the first part of the trip, at least I seem to remember reading about that somewhere. I'll see if I can find it... $\endgroup$
    – TildalWave
    Oct 26, 2015 at 18:50
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    $\begingroup$ They can be scared to death but my personal rabbits travel all over the country by car with me, but more telling is that they came to Australia and the Americas in sailing ships that would have been just about as scary as a space launch. $\endgroup$ Oct 26, 2015 at 20:47
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    $\begingroup$ Searching the NASA domain, I found reference of lots of incidents of rabbits in space, but none with any detail. I did find one old document that mentioned that one of the cons of using rabbits for space experiments was their high susceptibility to stress. I do wonder though, why we would keep sending up rabbits if they died every time. Surely, the survivability must be at least half. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Oct 27, 2015 at 19:18
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    $\begingroup$ According to this paper, rabbits are planned to be on the ISS sometime before 2025. $\endgroup$
    – called2voyage
    Jun 7, 2017 at 13:47
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    $\begingroup$ @called2voyage the sum of your comments and links, are getting to be worthy of answer. While not complete it does address much of the question. $\endgroup$ Jun 7, 2017 at 14:04

2 Answers 2


Public information on rabbits in space is surprisingly sparse. The earliest instance I have been able to find is the July 2, 1959 launch of the Soviet R-2, which reportedly carried the first rabbit into space.

As mentioned in the question, a rabbit was also aboard Korabl-Sputnik 2, which is more well-known for the dogs Belka and Strelka.

I did find a 1999 Japanese study, Development of the aortic baroreflex system under conditions of microgravity, which refers to science performed on rabbits in microgravity. Unfortunately, it is only the abstract, and I was unable to find which mission this was associated with.

That's about it.

Searching the NASA domain, I found reference of lots of incidents of rabbits in space, but none with any detail. I did find one old document (which I've since lost) that mentioned that one of the cons of using rabbits for space experiments was their high susceptibility to stress.

I found another Japanese paper, Life science experiments performed in space in the ISS/Kibo facility and future research plans, containing proposals for experiments aboard the ISS through 2024. It has one brief mention of rabbits:

Mammals such as mice and small rabbits are to be grown and bred in space to analyze fertilization, growth, development, movement and living under µg and 1 g conditions. Centrifugation systems in the ISS will be used to provide different levels of gravity. Potential projects are studies of reproduction, development, birth, care of offspring, behavior and healthcare in gene knockout (mutated) and parental wild-type animals. Multichannel telemetry will be used to monitor body temperatures and behavior with a CCD camera and to download data to the Earth from the ISS.

I speculated in the comments that if they keep sending rabbits up, one might expect them to have at least some survivability. On the other hand, perhaps people just really want rabbits in space.

Also in the comments, Chad pointed out that "[a] living and stressed rabbit will generally not eat or eat very little and will not reproduce" and a 1g centrifuge for rabbits would "require [a lot] of equipment for a few animals on the ISS".


Russian Wikipedia has a really good time line of all the first animals on ballistic R2-A launches:


The first rabbit, named Marfushka was launched on July 2, 1959 on the 23rd launch of the R2-A. It reached an altitude of 220 km and was accompanied by dogs Otvazhnaya and Snezhinka. Here is a picture of Otvazhnaya and Marfushka:


The second rabbit named Zvezdochka (not to be confused with the dog by that name that flew in Korabl-Sputnik 5) was launched on June 15, 1960 with dogs Otvazhnaya and Malek:


There was also a gray rabbit on board of Korabl-Sputnik 2, but no name ore picture were released.


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