Have you ever heard of Félicette the cat? Well, not many people have – which is a shame, considering that she was the first and only cat to ever go to space.
One man, however, is on a mission to remind the world of the feline’s contribution to science.
Matthew Serge Guy first found out about Félicette when he saw her picture on a vintage tea towel. After researching the trailblazing astro-cat, he found that her launch into space had become largely forgotten by the masses.
Félicette was one of 13 cats who underwent rigorous training in preparation of a trip to space. Scientists conducted the research because they figured that if animals were able to survive in space, then humans could too. Félicette was eventually selected as the successor of the project due to her surprisingly calm disposition (or because the other cats became too fat – no one knows).
In October 1963, the cat was propelled to a height of 97 miles (157 kilometers) for 5 minutes of weightlessness before she parachuted back to Earth and was picked up by helicopter just 13 minutes after launch.
Félicette’s accomplishment, however, was forgotten in the annals of history because of the host of other milestones during the space race in the 60s. She was technically given an honorary set of stamps after her mission, but the postage company spelt her name wrong thinking that she was actually a male cat named “Felix”.
While the first dog and monkey who went to space have been given statues and proper burials in their memories, Félicette’s voyage has mostly been ignored – up until now.
Guy created a Kickstarter page with the hope of crowdfunding enough money to erect a statue of Félicette in her hometown of Paris. While the page has raised $38,000 of its $52,000 goal with the weekend deadline looming, Guy is delighted that people have been so enthusiastic to learn about The Astro Cat.
“Through this Kickstarter campaign itself, Félicette’s story has now been relayed to many people all over the world, who previously had no idea she existed at all,” says Guy.
“So in a way, it’s done the same job as the statue itself – helping the world remember the first cat who went to space.”
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