50 years ago today, we (the human race, anyway) sent the first man into space. That man, Yuri Gagarin, was a Russian/Soviet cosmonaut who was chosen out of a select few to become this poster-boy of human accomplishment. But before him, there were other, non-human, not necessarily willing participants in the space race.
Thinking back to before the April 12th launch, November 3rd, 2007 was the 50th anniversary of the first animal (a dog named Laika, also a Soviet) being sent into space. Between then and Gagarin’s flight, many other specimens were sent up, both by the commies and by the US, these animals usually being dogs and monkeys. Since then, NASA and other agencies have sent numerous other species including fish and insects to see how these creatures would fare in the zero-G environment of space.
If you stop to think about Comrade Gagarin, also stop to think about the animals. They had ‘the right stuff’, and odds are you don’t. (Not saying by any means, of course, that I do myself.)