May 29, 2009--A squirrel monkey named Baker peers out from a 1950s NASA biocapsule as she's readied for her first space mission. Baker and a rhesus monkey named Able launched aboard a Jupiter AM-18 rocket on May 28, 1959—50 years ago this week.
The pair returned to Earth alive after a 15-minute flight, becoming the first primates to survive a trip into space. Miss Baker, as she came to be known, spent the latter part of her life at the U.S. Space and Rocket Center in Huntsville, Alabama. She died of kidney failure in 1984 at the ripe old age of 27.
Ten years earlier a rhesus monkey named Albert II had become the first living monkey in space, but he died on impact when he returned to Earth.