On October 18th, 1963, the Centre national d’études in France was set to send a small cat named Félix into space.
After lagging behind its Soviet and American competitors, France was eager to stake its claim in the space race—with cats, for some reason.
But on launch day, the mischievous little beast went missing—and an accidental heroine stepped in to take his place. Her name was Félicette.
From the streets of Paris, this tuxedo kitty—nicknamed "Astrocat"—would reach heights never achieved by feline kind.
On October 24th, 1963, Félicette jetted 130 miles above Earth on a liquid-fueled French Véronique AG1 rocket, soaring high above the Algerian Sahara Desert.
She returned just fifteen minutes later, already a decorated heroine for her nation.
After her landing, French scientists at the Education Center of Aviation and Medical Research (CERMA) studied Félicette’s brain waves to see if she had changed at all since her voyage.
While not much is known about their findings—or about Félicette's eventual fate—the CERMA said she had made "a valuable contribution to research."
While France does have its own formidable space program, the French ultimately did not pursue sending humans into space on their nation’s own rockets.
That could explain Félicette's relative mysteriousness.
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