1947: Fruit flies

On February 20, 1947, the United States sent fruit flies, the first animals into space to test the effects of radiation on DNA, blasting them off from White Sands Missile Range, New Mexico. Although the little buggers didn’t quite make it into orbit, they did reach ‘space,’ as the U.S. Air Force defines it: at least 50 miles up.

For anyone who’s witnessed the persistence of fruit flies, it won’t be surprising to learn they were alive upon their return.

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