Inspired by @jakebrandman
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    On January 31, NASA launches a Mercury-Redstone 2 rocket into space.
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    It's a test flight of the Project Mercury capsule, designed to carry United States astronauts into space.
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    Americans are riveted.
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    Because of the rocket's passenger.
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    Meet America's first astronaut, Ham.
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    He flies alone.
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    He is Ham Solo, badass space chimp. #swagger
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    Ham undergoes rigorous testing to prepare for his mission. The three-year-old is trained under the direction of neuroscientists to do simple, timed tasks in response to electric lights and sounds.
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    The 37-pound primate receives medical testing to be sure he can handle the rigors of space flight.
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    Ham even learns to talk with the media.
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    Unlike previous primate space flights, Ham is not merely a passenger, and the results from his flight lead directly to Alan Shepard's space mission aboard Freedom 7 four months later, on May 5.
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    Ham's lever-pushing performance in space is only a fraction of a second slower than on Earth, demonstrating that tasks can be performed in the weightlessness of space.
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    Ham the Astrochimp's suborbital space flight lasts 16 minutes and 39 seconds.
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    After his flight, Ham is greeted with a handshake by the commander of the recovery ship, USS Donner, in the Atlantic Ocean.
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    Ham suffers a bruised nose while in space. I like to think it was from pushing his face against the window glass to see a sight no man had ever seen:
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    Ham will move on to a career in Hollywood. (Just kidding! After flight, Ham lives for another 17 years in the National Zoo in Washington, D.C.)
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    Ham's grave at the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, New Mexico. Rest in peace, AstroChimp: July 1956 – January 19, 1983
  25. Ham the Space Chimp!
    The first hominid in space!