Hi There, Kalea here!
I’ve always been fascinated with outer space. When Yoko told me that those little lights in the nighttime sky were actually far-away planets and suns, it captured my imagination and made me want to know more. I read as much as I could about rocket ships, space shuttles and famous astronauts like Neil Armstrong and Buzz Aldrin. What amazing things they did!
But did you know that before men landed on the moon in 1969, two turtles had already been around the moon and back? It’s true!
On September 15, 1968, a Russian spacecraft called ‘Zond 5’ took off into outer space with two turtles aboard. It was the very first flight to ever carry live animals into deep space. The space ship made a loop around the moon and safely returned to Earth five days later, splashing down in the Indian Ocean. The turtles were fine but had lost a little weight while in space. Also, they were really hungry when they returned!
And there were even more turtle astronauts! In 1975, two turtles aboard a ship called the ‘Soyuz 20’ traveled in Earth’s orbit for 90 days, setting a record for the longest amount of time ANY animal has spent in space.
In 2010, more turtles blasted off into outer space—this time with a rat and a bunch of worms aboard!
As recently as last year, a turtle astronaut by the name of ‘Little Cloud’ soared 13 miles above the Earth in a test craft that was part space ship and part balloon. Space is cold and does not have breathable air, but don’t worry, Little Cloud was quite comfortable during his journey into space. The oxygen levels, air pressure, and temperature in his capsule were all remotely controlled by scientists here on Earth.
In case you’re wondering, all the animals returned safely from their space adventures, and their brave missions helped scientists to better understand how space travel can affect human beings.
It made me so proud to know that turtles have made it all the way into outer space. It’s incredible! And who knows? Maybe even one day, I’ll make it up there. It’s my reminder to keep reaching for the stars!