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The Astrochimps
The Astrochimps

The Astrochimps

America's First Astronauts


216 Pages, 5.5 x 8.5

Formats: Cloth, PDF, EPUB, Trade Paper

Cloth, $19.99 (US $19.99) (CA $26.99)

Publication Date: February 2024

ISBN 9781641608954

Rights: WOR

Chicago Review Press (Feb 2024)


eBook Editions Available

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Price: $19.99


"Vividly portrayed, meticulously researched picture” — Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

Meet Ham, Minnie, Enos, Roscoe, Tiger, and Rocky.

When the United States was scrambling to catch up to the Soviets after their successful launch of Sputnik, they didn’t turn to Mercury Seven astronauts Alan Shepard and John Glenn. Rather, they began bringing chimpanzees to Holloman Air Force Base in New Mexico for a top-secret program. The goal? To do everything America needed to make space travel safe for humans and beat the Soviets.

Based on extensive research and interviews with living members of the team of veterinarians, handlers, and psychologists who worked with the animals, The Astrochimps offers a fresh perspective on animal intelligence and the rise of the space age. Detailed back matter provides resources, space mission stats, and calls to action for young readers to honor the astrochimps’ legacy and advocate for the humane treatment of chimpanzees today.

At work, at play, in and out of spacecrafts, these chimps played an under-appreciated part in helping the United States win the Space Race.


“With engaging narrative style and boundless sensitivity, Dawn Cusick introduces the Astrochimps, America’s first astronauts. A must-read for space race fans, future scientists, or anyone who has ever loved an animal.” —Amy Cherrix, author of In the Shadow of the Moon

“Usually relegated to brief mentions in histories of the space race, the NASA program’s chimps take center stage here as Cusick draws on a mix of interviews and archival sources to present a vividly portrayed, meticulously researched picture of their strenuous training and experiences... All hail these pioneering primates!” — Kirkus Reviews, Starred Review

"The Astrochimps is an exciting, specialized history of the Space Race" — Foreword Reviews

“By touching on subjects of animal rights and experimentation, as well as gender equity within Homo sapiens society, Cusick breathes life into a seldom heard story and reminds readers that while ’we cannot undo the past... we can create a new future.’” — Publishers Weekly

"Riveting and reverent account, packed with fascinating details and archival photos, traces the role these astrochimps played in the Space Race." —Booklist, Starred Review

[A] compelling aspect of astronautic history" — Library Journal

Author Biography

Dawn Cusick is the author of Animal Eggs, Bug Butts, and Get the Scoop on Animal Poop, among her many titles aimed at young activists, reluctant readers, and animal lovers. Her books have been named a Best Children’s Book of the Year by Bank Street College of Education, an Outstanding Science Trade Book by the NSTA, a National Children’s Choice finalist, and more. She lives in Clyde, North Carolina, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, where she teaches general biology and zoology courses at Haywood Community College.