“Albert the Space Monkey” is Bad Ju-Ju

Iran has announced plans to launch primates into space starting in February. Let’s hope they don’t name theirs any variation of “Albert”. The Americans’ first round of ‘space monkeys’ were all Alberts, one way or another. History has not been kind to space monkeys named Albert.

The first one they stuffed into a rocket was named Albert. He rode a V-2 to 60 km up in 1948, suffocating in-flight. Note to self: pack oxygen. He was followed by Albert II who technically survived the flight, but the parachute was having a bad day, so Albert II kinda flat-lined after streamering in. That was back in 1949. At least he got bragging rights for being the first monkey to actually reach space, a hundred thirty km up.

It was less glorious for Albert III. His bottle-rocket went POP! on the way up at 35,000 feet, and he died. Albert IV was the last V-2 passenger. He made the ride to 130 km altitude okay, but like Al #2 his parachute was FUBAR. Not a good way to go.

In 1951, a monkey possibly called Albert V, rode one of the new Aerobee rockets up, but also died due to parachute failure. Hello, low-bidder!

But then came Yorick! Though only sometimes called Albert VI (out of a sick tradition), Yorick became one of the very first animals (along with 11 mouse crew-mates) to actually survive a rocket flight and landing, but only on a technicality. Alas, poor Yorick died shortly after landing, along with two of the mice. Their  deaths were thought to be related to overheating in the sealed capsule in the New Mexico sun while awaiting the recovery team. Let that mundane irony soak in: they survived a rocket flight into space, but died from sitting in the sun with the windows rolled up.

“Albert” is right out for space monkeys.


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