Ham (named for Holloman Aerospace Medical Center) became the first hominid space traveler on 31 January 1961.
Ham’s space travel in a Mercury capsule in low earth orbit lasted 16 minutes from lift-off at Cape Canaveral, Florida, to touch-down in the Atlantic Ocean. His successful flight validated American plans for a human suborbital flight.
Two and a half months later, on 12 April, Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin would become the first human in space. Alan Shepard became the first American human in space on 05 May.
Ham was born in the French Camaroons, West Africa, July 1957. NASA brought Ham to Holloman Air Force Base in Alamogordo, New Mexico, in 1959.