Nerdy New Mexico's pilgrimage to honor Ham the Astrochimp leads to his nondescript grave marker at the New Mexico Museum of Space History.
Statue of Ham the Astrochimp
This life-size sculpture of Ham the Astrochimp at the New Mexico Museum of Space History honors the first chimpanzee in outer space. Ham was launched into orbit in a Mercury module in 1961, before NASA sent humans into space.
Ham the Astrochimp wore a restraint suit very similar to this one. He was then placed inside a fiberglass container called a primate capsule, which was set into a Mercury module and rocketed into space. Ham spent seven minutes as a weightless chimp before returning to Earth.
The New Mexico Museum of Space History features a Mercury module that visitors can climb into. A module like this one carried Ham the Astrochimp into space in 1961. Later, these modules took humans up. Ham was proof that primates could survive the journey.
Ham the Astrochimp is buried near an outdoor rocket park at the New Mexico Museum of Space History. This nearly 90-foot beast named Little Joe II was powered by up to nine rocket motors with a combined thrust of 860,000 pounds. It was used to test the Apollo launch escape system.
Not far from Ham the Astrochimp sits this F-1 rocket engine, the most powerful single chamber, liquid-fuel rocket engine ever flown. It's one of many outdoor attractions at the New Mexico Museum of Space History.
Ham the Astrochimp didn't make it as far as the moon, but thanks to his pioneering work, humans eventually did. This moon rock is on display at the New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo, encased in a clear pyramid. It was collected during the Apollo 17 mission in 1972.
The New Mexico Museum of Space History in Alamogordo features four floors full of spacesuits and equipment from the history of space exploration. It is also the final resting place for Ham the Astrochimp, the first chimpanzee in outer space.