R.I.P., chimp who began our journey to outer space

On this day in 1983: The first hominid in outer space, the chimpanzee Ham, dies at age 26 at the North Carolina Zoo. Although he lived the past two years at the zoo, his remains will be buried at the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamagordo, N.M.

Ham’s 1958 flight from Cape Canaveral aboard a Mercury-Redstone rocket lasted 16 minutes, 39 seconds, and paved the way for the launch of America’s first human astronaut, Alan Shepard, in 1961.