In the 1950s, a small group of brave chimps had the adventure of their lifetime. They went to that place where apes often dream of, but where none had ever gone before - outer space.
Throughout the decade, it was assumed that chimpanzees would be better suited to space travel than humans, because there is a lack of launderettes away from Earth and chimps don't wear any clothes. At least not usually.
A three year training programme at NASA was run, to try to find those particular chimps that would be most suited to the frightening and difficult journey. The chimps were rewarded with electric shocks if they did something wrong, and got a banana if they pushed the right buttons (a training programme which is still in use at NASA today).
Most chimps learned their tasks fairly well, but became very excitable as soon as they were strapped into a cockpit. They tended to have trouble remembering their training, and began screaming and gesturing for more bananas.
One chimp, however, proved to be better at handling the stress than the others. Coco the chimp had his own unique method of calming himself down, which although effective, startled the trainers at first. Onanism was unheard of in that era.
The heads at NASA were impressed with Coco's performance under pressure, but they were at first reluctant to allow a chimp to pleasure himself inside an actual spaceship. They were worried about the effect a large volume of fluid could have in a weightless environment. So they fitted him with a catheter and a padlocked nappy which would prevent him from touching himself too much.
Not long after that, Coco became the first chimponaut in space. The Russians at that stage were still using bonobos, with inevitable difficulties, so it was a rare early first for the Americans.
Coco's mission was a simple 30 minute flight. At about halfway through the voyage, he would have to check in the rear mirror, apply the brakes and then complete a three-point turn in Earth's lower orbit to bring the spacecraft back down again.
The take-off went well but poor Coco was shaken about a lot during the early stages. Once the bumpy start was over, he was rewarded with a banana. The ground crew were happy to hear his excitement at the snack.
The flight continued smoothly until the time came for him to begin his manoeuvre. A warning light came on in the cockpit to tell Coco that he needed to do his thing.
Unfortunately, he then proceeded to try to do his "other thing". NASA could hear him becoming agitated, and received warnings that he was not following procedure.
Sadly that was the last that was heard of Coco. His screams of sexual frustration echoed out over the radio as he vainly attempted to tear off the chastity device. Engineers who have heard the recording are said to be haunted by the desperate shrieks. Some believe that if they listen closely, it is possible to recognise Coco screaming the words "wank banana".
Nowadays, of course, astronauts are sexually pleasured by robots before, during, and after their flights. It is one of the reasons why being an astronaut is such a popular career. And they owe it all to one brave chimponaut who may still be out there somewhere tugging furiously.