On October 18, 1963, a lovely feline named Félicette became the first cat in space in a trip lasting just 15 minutes and including several minutes of weightlessness. Her craft Three months later, scientists euthanized Félicette to study how the flight may have impacted her biology. Now, a fellow named Matthew Serge Guy has launched a Kickstarter to fund a statue in Paris memorializing Félicette. From the Kickstarter:
There are conflicting stories on whether the French space programme simply found Félicette as a stray on the streets of Paris, or if she was purchased from a cat dealer. Either way, she became one of 14 cats put into training for this spaceflight mission.
Ultimately Félicette was chosen, apparently due to her calm nature. But other reports indicate it may have been because the other 13 cats had put on too much weight….
It’s also important to note that Félicette, alongside many other animals that have braved space travel in the name of science, was ultimately an unwilling participant in this experiment. For this mission alone she, alongside 13 other cats, experienced arduous training prior to the mission and eventually gave her life. In that respect, this statue should serve as a reminder of the sacrifices made by all animal astronauts throughout the Space Race.