Miss Able was an Army rhesus monkey who is regarded as the first American animal to survive return from space, along with her Navy squirrel monkey co-passenger Miss Baker. I have found conflicting explanations for the origin of Miss Able's name. Is there an authoritative source for Miss Able's name?

  • I have always assumed that Able and Baker were simply chosen as the first two letters of the World War II allied phonetic alphabet.

  • The Wikipedia page for Miss Baker has a somewhat more complicated version of the phonetic alphabet story:

    With experiments imminent, the Army named their monkey "Alpha," and the Navy followed with "Bravo," names taken directly from the phonetic alphabet. Before flight, though, the names changed to the first letters of the antiquated Joint Army/Navy Phonetic Alphabet.

    (Interestingly, Wikipedia has this page for Miss Baker, but no page for Miss Able.)

  • The Wikipedia page for the Able rocket stage claims that the monkey was named after this rocket stage:

    In honor of the rocket stage during an animals in space test, a rhesus monkey name Miss Able, flew with Miss Baker on May 28, 1959.

  • All the articles in the NASA conference publication The Use of Nonhuman Primates in Space use the spelling Abel instead of Able. However, it does not give any explanation behind the name.

    Less than 6 months later on May 28, 1959, the same group of investigators launched Bioflight 2, using two monkeys, "Abel" - a 3.2-kg Rhesus, and "Baker" - a 0.5-kg squirrel monkey. Both animals were successfully recovered.

  • The monkey's name is not discussed in Origins of NASA Names, regardless of spelling.



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