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Animals in space: from Laika to jellyfish & tortoises 

Stephen Walker tells Rhiannon Davies about the history of animals in space, from fruit flies and monkeys to Laika the Soviet space dog 

Stephen Walker tells Rhiannon Davies about the history of animals in space, from fruit flies and monkeys to Laika the Soviet space dog. (Image by Getty Images)

Thousands of animals paved the way for human space travel. But for many of them, it was an incredibly painful – or deadly – experience. Stephen Walker tells Rhiannon Davies about this overlooked chapter of space exploration, from Soviet space dogs strapped to rockets and chimpanzees sent up by NASA, to two tortoises who orbited the moon.

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Stephen Walker is the author of Beyond: The Astonishing Story of the First Human to Leave Our Planet and Journey into Space (HarperCollins, 2021)