This picture of the monkey that Iran reportedly launched into space successfully broke hearts across the Internet on Monday. The look of distress on the immobilized, unnammed primate's face suggested that the creature would never be the same after the trauma. "I saw the monkey -- the pictures of the poor little monkey preparing to go to space," U.S. State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland told reporters. "Who would do such a thing, to a monkey?" marveled The Awl's Ken Layne.
In fact, we did. The United States, the Soviet Union, and France sent all manner of monkeys -- rhesus monkeys, squirrel monkeys, chimpanzees, pig-tailed macaques -- into space during the height of the Cold War in preparation for the missions that would eventually carry humans into space. "Iran is repeating the wasteful and cruel mistakes that marked the darkest days of the space race," the animal rights group PETA declared on Monday.
Many of the monkeys launched into orbit in the 1940s, 50s, and 60s did not survive -- there were explosions, failed parachutes, and creatures lost at sea. But those who did often went on to become celebrities -- mini-mascots for space programs in their youths, with cushy zoo retirements in their old ages. Here are some of their stories.