On May 28th, 1959, two of the greatest heroes of space travel returned to Earth after a 15 minute space flight.

It may not sound like much, but it was the first time astronauts were able to survive a return trip from space.

And did I mention that the astronauts were both monkeys? One was named Able, and the other was Miss Baker. These brave little primates paved the way for space exploration by helping scientists to understand the physical stress of spaceflight.

Unfortunately, Able passed away only a few days later, but Miss Baker lived another twenty-five years. When she passed away in 1984, over three-hundred people attended her funeral, paying tribute to her part in the history of spaceflight.

On Monkey Day, we celebrate the primates who took the first steps to make mankind’s giant leap possible.