1961-01-31 USA Mercury MR-2 HAM

Mercury-Redstone 2 (MR-2), launched on January 31, 1961 from Cape Canaveral, was a suborbital space flight that carried the first chimpanzee, HAM, into outer space. The space flight lasted about 17 minutes. HAM's name is an acronym for the lab that prepared him for his historic mission — the Holloman Aerospace Medical Center. HAM was 3 years 8 months old at launch, and died on January 19, 1983, at the age 26. He was one of many animals in space.

Mercury MR-2 (HAM the chimp) launch Port Canaveral postmark, Sarzin cachet.
Photo: "HAM IN SPACE - This is how Ham, the space chimpanzee, appeared in the capsule during last Tuesday's flight into space from Cape Canaveral, Florida. The picture, an enlargement from 16 mm motion picture film released by NASA, was taken by an automatic camera set up inside the capsule and trained on the chimp's face reflected by a mirror. The camera operated at four frames per second, using daylight for exposure. Three other 16 mm movie cameras were used on the flight. One other within the capsule was trained on the instrument panel. The third camera was pointed at the earth, the fourth pictured the rocket separation. (NASA photo via A.P. Wirephoto)"
Mercury MR-2 (HAM the chimp) cover with stamped Swanson cachet and parachuting monkey cachet.
Photo: Space chimpanzee "Ham" was brought to USS Donner after recovery.
Mercury MR-2 (HAM the chimp) cover produced by Goldey, with a cachet depicting the flight path.

HAM was recovered by a helicopter at 2:42pm and was brought to the USS Donner. However the ship's post office was closed on that day, so Rich Hoffner (who produced this cover) sent 63 covers to the secondary recovery ship U.S.S. Warrington to be postmarked for the Mercury-Redstone 2 recovery.