HAM THE CHIMP Biography - Pioneers, Explorers & inventors


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Name: Ham                                                                           
Born: August 1956                                                                   
Died: January 19, 1983                                                               
Ham (August 1956? - January 19, 1983), also known as Ham the Chimp and Ham the       
Astrochimp, was the first hominid launched into outer space. Ham's name is an       
acronym for the lab that prepared him for his historic mission--the Holloman         
Aerospace Medical Center, located at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.         
In December 1960, the four-year-old chimpanzee was trained to do simple, timed       
tasks in response to electric lights and sounds. In his pre-flight training, Ham     
was taught to push a lever within five seconds of seeing a flashing blue light;     
failure to do so would result in an application of positive punishment in the       
form of a mild electric shock to the soles of his feet, while a correct response     
earned him a banana pellet. After all of the training, it was time to find out       
whether he could function under the stress and pressure that comes with space       
travel. What differentiates Ham's mission from all the other primate flights to     
this point is that he was not merely a passenger, and the results from his test     
flight led directly to the mission Alan Shepard would make on May 5, 1961 aboard     
the Freedom 7.