Felicette - the first space cat and the memory of her (11 photos)

Category: Animals, PEGI 0+
17 June 2024

Animals perform feats, the memory of which lives on for centuries. Although the little tailed heroes themselves did not ask for such an honor at all.

An ordinary black and white cat survived a flight into space and then fell into obscurity.


In 1963, a cat named Felicette went where none of her ancestors had gone before: almost 160 kilometers into the sky. While in a container at the nose of the rocket, the cat flew through the atmosphere and landed safely on Earth a quarter of an hour later.

Felicette first from left

Decades after her short extraterrestrial journey, the cute astrocat has finally been honored with a monument installed in the Pioneer Hall of the International Space University in Strasbourg (France).

The campaign for Felicette began with Mathieu Serge Guy, the creative director, who was puzzled that the boundary-breaking cat never became a household name. Sending animals into space has always caused controversy - both then and now: after all, it is inhumane, although it was done for the sake of science, but many of them did not survive the trip...

After landing

And those who survived were often subjected to extensive ordeals and painful operations (one of which was the implantation of electrodes into Felicette's brain).

Monument to Laika

Several other furry space travelers were better remembered. Our dogs have spawned an entire industry, and in 2008 a monument to Laika, a friendly mongrel who traveled into Earth orbit in 1957, was erected in Moscow.

Miss Baker's grave

In 1959, NASA sent a squirrel monkey, Miss Baker, into space and returned her alive. She died in 1984 and is buried near the US Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama, where fans still visit her to place bananas on the brave monkey's gravestone.

Monument to Felicette

Space lover Guy thought, why isn't Felicette recognized? He began work in 2017, launching a fundraising campaign.

In a workshop

With the help of 1,141 subscribers, the goal was achieved. During the fundraiser, we managed to collect about $56,000. The bronze memorial, created by sculptor Gill Parker, was unveiled in December 2019. It depicts Felicette sitting on top of the world, with her eyes fixed on the sky and her tail circling the globe.

Felicette was euthanized a few months after her return so that scientists could study her body more closely and understand how space travel had affected it.

But many details of Felicette's story remain unclear: she is said to have been one of 14 cats recruited for the French space program, but some reports say she was purchased from a pet store, and others say she was chosen from among the cats roaming the streets of Paris. .

The artist Mikhail Polyakov was impressed by Felicette’s feat and dedicated a mosaic sculpture to her (Dubna)

Additionally, different reports mention different cats with the same name. Even if some details remain forever unknown, one thing is certain: while other cats spend their entire lives running from one speck of sunlight to another to bask in its rays, Felicette, like a comet, soared into unreality, remaining in the memory of humanity as a conqueror of outer space.

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