Three Space Chimpanzee Trainees
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When the time came to test the space capsule’s life support systems and task performance ability in space, NASA needed a special animal couch to both house the chimpanzees and the device that would be used to test performance. The task of building the animal couch went to the McDonnell Aircraft Company. For the chimpanzee flights, the contoured couch was used for more then just animal restraint and safety. It was designed to test the same environmental control loop in the Mercury capsule that the human astronauts’ pressure suits would use. The couch had the same hookup system to the control loop as the pressure suits and had a cover that could be sealed to simulate the pressure suit with the faceplate closed. The couch fit both the chimpanzee and the psychomotor panels inside, did not interfere with the Mercury spacecraft interior, and only require enough power from the spacecraft systems for its operation. These couches were designed around the animal that would be used and were fitted with restraints built into it as well as a water supply system and a urine collection system. Lead wires monitoring the animals vitals and psychological responses and leads that administered electrical shock to the soles of there feet when the correct lever was not pulled or banna pellets as a reward for the correct action. These wires feed information to psychomoter panels. This same couch design was used by both the ballistic and orbital flights with only a change in the psychomotor panel .
DescriptionThree chimpanzees trainees, "Duane", "Jim" and "Chu" strapped into their own space restraints. The chimps were among 75 being trained for space missions at Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexicon on Jan. 13, 1961. Writing on the photo or group of photos: '"Space Trainees"- "Duane", "Jim", & "Chu"' Physical description: Black and white print (photograph) 24x19mm.
SubjectNational Aeronautics and Space Administration
Animal space flight
College of Veterinary Medicine & Biomedical SciencesThree Space Chimpanzee Trainees. Available electronically from