Luigi eats the cypress tree
On December 4th, 1959 a monkey sent into orbit by the US returned safely to earth. Between 1948 and 1961, monkeys were used as guinea pigs to test the biological effects of space travel before human beings were sent into orbit. In May 1959, after seven unsuccessful monkeys died due to various technical and respiratory problems, Able - a rhesus monkey - and Baker - a squirrel monkey – became the first living beings to return to earth after traveling in space for over 16,000 km. This successful attempt was followed by Sam, another rhesus monkey, who returned safely to earth on December 4th, having flown on the Little Joe 2 flight, which was part of the Mercury program.