*The Wrong Stuff: How the Soviet Space Program Crashed and Burned*

By John Strausbaugh, an excellent book.  Here is one good passage of many:

Putting dogs on top of rockets was nothing new.  Since so little was known about the effects that blasting off in a rocket might have on th ehuman body and brain — the g-force of acceleration, the disorientation of weightlessness, the impact of radiation, the g-force of deceleration — the Soviets and the Americans both had been using various species of animals to test conditions since the 1940s.  The Americans started sending up fruit flies aboard their White Sands V-2s in 1947.  An anesthetized rhesus monkey they named Albert II…went up eighty-three miles in a V-2 in 1949.  Unfortunately, his parachute failed to oepn on reentry and he was smashed to death on impact with the ground.  The Americans continued to send up primates in the 1940s and 1950s.  Something like two-thirds of them died.  They used many other species as well, maybe the oddest of which was black bears, who were strapped into a rocket-powered sled at a facility with the deceptively sweet name the Daisy Track to test the physical effects of ultra-rapid acceleration and deceleration.


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