Ham, the chimp who was the first hominid in space, trained by NASA to operate a capsule in space. His trainer described the moment he was recovered from his capsule following the project – “I have never seen such terror on a chimp’s face”
Ham was born in 1957 in a rainforest in the Central African nation of Cameroon, then a French territory. He was captured and taken to an astronaut school for chimps at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico.
The astrochimps were trained to pull levers, with a banana pellet as a reward and an electric shock to the feet for failure. The chosen chimp would test life support systems and demonstrate that equipment could be operated during spaceflight. Ham showed great aptitude, and was selected the day before the flight.