Ham was the world's first AstroChimp, and the first free creature in outer space. He blasted off from Cape Canaveral on January 31, 1961, and traveled 155 miles in 16.5 minutes before splashing down safely in the Atlantic. The first American human to orbit the earth, John Glenn, was rewarded with a seat in the US Senate. Ham's reward was an apple.
After his space mission, Ham lived in the National Zoo in Washington, DC, for 17 years. Fretting animal activists worried that he languished there, a lonely superstar with a single tire hanging from his ceiling. So in 1981 Ham was moved to a zoo in North Carolina. There he socialized with other chimps, and found a special lady chimp to love. He died, peacefully, of old age on January 19, 1983, at age 27.
Ham's body was shipped west, and is buried in the front lawn of the International Space Hall of Fame in Alamogordo, NM, under the first slab of natural-tone concrete poured in Otero County.