Ham the Chimp: National Air Force Museum Dayton, Ohio

6/16/2011 05:40:00 PM ·

The space hanger at the National Museum of the US Air Force is one of my favorites, featuring some of histories forgotten missions and strategic missiles. If you've never learned about HAM, the chimp that road first class into outer space or close to it, the Wright Patterson National Air Force Museum has a small exhibit about his adventure.
According to NASA, Ham was brought from the French Camaroons, West Africa, where he was born July 1957, to Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico in 1959. The original flight plan called for an altitude of 115 miles and speeds ranging up to 4400 mph. However, due to technical problems, the spacecraft carrying Ham reached an altitude of 157 miles and a speed of 5857 mph and landed 422 miles downrange rather than the anticipated 290 miles. 

Ham the Chimp

Ham the Chimp Ham the Chimp Jacket and Undergarment

January 31, 1961, HAM (short for Holloman Aerospace Medical Center) wore the specially designed undergarment on the left aboard the suborbital Mercury-Redstone 2. Biomedical sensors recorded his pulse, breath depth, respiration, and temperature during the 16.5 minute flight. In total, HAM spent 7 minutes of his time weightless in the Mercury-Redstone 2 and splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean 60 miles from the recovery ship. 

Ham the Chimp’s Jacket

Ham the Chimp Jacket

A post-flight medical examination found Ham to be slightly fatigued and dehydrated, but in good shape otherwise. Ham's mission paved the way for the successful launch of America's first human astronaut, Alan B. Shepard, Jr., on May 5, 1961. HAM wore his stylish space jacket, after his flight aboard on the Mercury-Redstone 2, to meet President John F. Kennedy in 1961.

Upon the completion of a thorough medical examination, Ham was placed on display at the Washington Zoo in 1963 where he lived alone until September 25, 1980. He then was moved to the North Carolina Zoological Park in Asheboro. Upon his death on January 17, 1983, Ham's skeleton would be retained for ongoing examination by the Armed Forces Institute of Pathology. His other remains were respectfully laid to rest in front of the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, New Mexico.


  • Pictures © Friends Revolution
  • Nasa Ham info

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