Everyone knows the names of famous astronauts like Neil Armstrong, Buzz Aldrin and some may even remember Laika, the first dog in space. However, the first cat in space has been largely forgotten by history. This pioneering pussycat was named ”Félicette,” and she was shot into space 54 years ago this week from a base in the Sahara desert by the Centre National d’études Spatiales (CNES), the French version of NASA.
Félicette was picked out of a group of about a dozen cats because she had the best reaction to a series of tests that included a spin in a centrifuge, according to EuroNews. Her 12-minute flight took her 97 miles above Earth and included five minutes of weightlessness.
Although this “Astrocat” made history, Félicette was euthanized a few months later so scientists could study the effects of space travel on her body.