Fifty six year-old American space chimp Bobo says that the simian astronaut that was allegedly sent into orbit by Iran is not the hairiest of all time. "That record doesn't even go to me," he said, "but to a guy called Shepherd B. Armstrong."
It was noticeable that, in the earliest NASA footage of manned rocket launches, there was an astronaut who never took off his spacesuit. He was a test pilot in the sixties, and had to bail out when he lost control after he exceeded Mach 3. Gillette named a razor after this incident.
Shepherd B. Armstrong was shunned by his schoolmates. They were always finding hairs in their food at lunchtime. He used to look up at the airplanes that broke the bonds of this hateful world to fly in freedom and peace. In that sense, he was much like the chimps in 2001: A Space Odyssey.
Armstrong knew he had to be tougher and work harder than anyone else in the space program. He forced NASA technicians to bump up the centrifugal G force trainer to twenty on the dial. Many of them remember giving him CPR after these sessions, although no one remembers giving him the kiss of life.
He never gained the recognition that his courage and fanatical devotion to space deserved. However, his opinion was sought as a space adviser on one of the Planet of the Apes films. He finally married a bearded lady from Alabama, and now lives there in seclusion with his family.
"All of us monkeys got really close to Shepherd, he was like the dad we never had," said Bobo.
- "There's a Hair in My Boot: Memoirs of a Hirsute Spaceman" by Shepherd B. Armstrong.
- "Not the Sound of Silence: A Journey Through Mach 3" by Shepherd B. Armstrong in collaboration with Gillette Razors.
- " Men, Supermen, and Chimps" by NASA publications.
- "Bananas and Their Role in the Compensatory Motivation and Validation of Responsive Outcomes Among Primates" by Bobo, Penguin publications.