In December 1960 the four-year-old chimpanzee was trained to do simple, timed tasks in response to electric lights and sounds. In his pre-flight training, Ham was taught to push a lever within five seconds of seeing a flashing blue light; failure to do so would result in an application of positive punishment in the form of a mild electric shock to the soles of his feet.
On January 31, 1961, Ham was secured in a Project Mercury capsule labeled MR-2 and launched from Cape Canaveral, Florida into outer space. The capsule suffered a partial loss of pressure during the flight, but Ham’s space suit prevented him from suffering any harm. Ham’s lever-pushing performance in space was only a fraction of a second slower than on Earth, demonstrating that tasks could be performed in space. Ham’s capsule splashed down in the Atlantic Ocean and was recovered by a rescue ship later that day.
After the flight, Ham lived for 17 years in the National Zoo in Washington D.C., then at the North Carolina Zoo before dying at the age of 27 on January 19, 1983. Ham appeared repeatedly on television, as well as on film with Evel Knievel.
This is a great little film, reminiscent of those we watched in grade school.
[Internet Archive: Trailblazer in Space]