Felicette is known as the only cat to explore space. (Photo: Wikipedia)
JAKARTA – Almost six decades ago, a cat from Paris flew into space. He left a mark on the history of space exploration.
Felicette, a black and white cat, is known as the only cat to explore outer space. This important event coincided with a growing interest in space exploration among experts.
To be precise, on October 18 1938, a French-made rocket called Veronique was specifically designed to carry the only passenger into space, namely Felicette. Initially, this wild cat once roamed the streets of Paris. He was randomly selected to begin a suborbital mission that took him 96 miles above the Earth’s surface.
Quoted from the Times of India, Thursday (14/3/2023), when selected by scientists for this mission, Felicette became the first living creature sent into space. Because scientists want to study the effects of space travel.
Felicette is actually not the only cat chosen for this mission. To prevent emotional attachment between researchers and the furry creatures, the cats were given numbers. Felicette got the number C341.
Before taking to the skies, Felicette underwent rigorous astronaut training to prepare for her journey, including withstanding high gravitational forces in a centrifuge. Among the cats, C341 aka Felicette seems the most capable of handling conditions in space. He was chosen to be flown.
The name Felicette was given to the cat after she safely returned from space travel. This also marked the first exploration into uncharted regions of space.
After Felicette returned to Earth, scientists monitored her heart rate and breathing via electrodes implanted in her body. Unfortunately, Felicette’s story took a sad turn.
Scientists euthanized him, aka injected him with a lethal liquid. They wanted to do an in-depth examination of his brain. These experiments were kept secret from the media due to concerns over potential public outrage over animal cruelty. However, space explorers believe that Felicette’s sacrifice contributed to the noble cause of advancing human space exploration.
In 2017, Felicette’s invaluable contribution was recognized by more than 1,100 people who collectively donated 57 thousand US dollars or around IDR 875 million to launch a campaign called “Felicette’s Fury”. The goal of the campaign is to commemorate the first cat sent into space by raising funds to create a 5-foot-tall statue of Felicette atop a globe with the words “Astrocat” written beneath it.
The statue was unveiled at the International Space University in France to honor Felicette’s contributions to space research.