Space Chimps (iii) Death of an Astronaut
Where lies Enos (Hebrew for Man)? Not mouldering beside the deboned body-glove of HAM’s formless flesh underneath a New Mexico museum’s carpark flagpole nor laid out in the airforce pathology lab’s specimen drawers that house the same’s beetle- scrubbed bones. When half-hearted dissectors were done with Enos first chimpanzee to gain true orbit (third hominid after two cosmonauts) their flayed pilot bloomed in flame not on thrilling re-entry but in medical incinerator. Nothing of him remains. No brass plaque or ash-scattered park claims space for Enos (Hebrew for Man). Airplane Baby Banana Blanket interprets the bizarre true story of Lucy, a chimpanzee raised as the ‘daughter’ of Oklahoma psychotherapist Dr Maurice Temerlin during the 1960s and 70s. ‘Space Chimps I’, ‘Space Chimps II’ and ‘Space Chimps III’ signpost the close of each of the book’s three sections. They tell the story of two other chimps — HAM and Enos, unwilling participant’s in NASA’s Mercury Program.
Photograph of Ham the Chimpanzee Reaching for an Apple after Landing Safely inside a Mercury Capsule - NARA