This “Astrochimp” had a very important role. He was meant to demonstrate whether living beings could perform actions and maneuver aircraft while in space.
Before launching the first human into outer space, the Americans decided to send a chimpanzee, later named Ham, on a test flight (the officials did not want to name him before his safe return so the public wouldn’t become to attached).
Ham’s name is an acronym for the lab that prepared him for his historic mission – the Holloman Aerospace Medical Center. He was chosen among 40 chimpanzees trained for the same purpose. Ham, being the first chimpanzee in space, had a very important role. He was meant to demonstrate whether living things could perform actions and maneuver aircraft while in space. Namely, Ham was trained to push a lever after seeing a flashing blue light. He was trained by using electric shocks and rewards in form of banana pellets. Indeed, Ham’s lever-pushing performance in space was only a fraction of a second slower than on Earth. After the successful flight he lived for another 17 years in a ZOO.