May 31, 2006

Actually, this is wrong. Félicette, a female cat, was the first feline in space, but I claim partial exoneration, because this ridiculous little bit of history has many versions, and they have evolved almost to this day. The best story was that the cat originally tapped for the mission was a tom named Felix, but the day of the launch, he escaped, and Félicette was a substitute. Alas, this information has been debunked by one who was there. In a 2014 interview, a French scientist claimed he had no idea where the tale of the non-existent Felix originated. And that part about the only “successful” cat in space? Alors, that part is true. The French launched a second cat into sub-orbital space a few months after the first mission. The rocket malfunctioned, and the astrocat with no name did not survive. In fact, the scientists did not name the cats involved, for understandable reasons. Probably the name “Félicette” was bestowed by the press. Don’t be too hard on the French. In that era, nations were shooting all sorts of animals into space, for research. Now, they simply use humans. At least the humans have a choice.

Today's "Arlo & Janis!"