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Miss Able was the first American animal to return alive from space, along with her co-passenger Miss Baker. She was supposed to press a telegraph button under her right hand, in response to a flashing light, before Ham the Chimp did a related experiment. But Miss Able never performed her experiment -- why?

  • The Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum claims that the experiment was cancelled prior to her flight, because the monkey was replaced by one with less training:

    As part of a physiological experiment, scientists planned to have the rhesus monkey press a telegraph key (under the right paw) when a light flashed. The rhesus monkeys initially trained for the mission, however, were born in India where the rhesus is sacred and are not used as experimental animals. To avoid diplomatic repercussions, the American-born Able was substituted, two weeks before the mission. As she did not have time to learn her drill, the experiment was cancelled.

  • The Wikipedia page for Miss Able's co-passenger instead claims malfunctions:

    Some of Able's measurements had data problems as indicated.

    monitor electric shock: problems

    monitor lever response: problems

What is the correct story?


Miss Able died during surgery four days after flight. She was preserved by the Smithsonian and -- for a time -- was on display in her couch at the National Air and Space Museum.

Miss Able

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