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Over the last 54 years, the story of the first and only cat to go to space has been largely forgotten. She deserves a proper memorial.
Over the last 54 years, the story of the first and only cat to go to space has been largely forgotten. She deserves a proper memorial.
1,141 backers pledged £43,323 to help bring this project to life.

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A statue to Félicette, the first cat in space. project video thumbnail
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£43,323

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Oui. In 1963.

Félicette is the first and only cat to experience the weightlessness of space. 

Although other animals in space, such as Laika the dog and Ham the chimpanzee, are well-known within popular culture and have lasting memorials, very few people are aware that a cat went to space at all. 

Now it's time for The Astrocat to get the memorial she rightly deserves. 

Félicette
Félicette

 

In the early days of spaceflight research, scientists all over the world wanted to understand how the lack of gravity in space could affect human astronauts. So animal astronauts led the way, to see if life could survive in space at all. 

The Sydney Morning Herald - Oct 20, 1963
The Sydney Morning Herald - Oct 20, 1963

 

There are conflicting stories on whether the French space programme simply found Félicette as a stray on the streets of Paris, or if she was purchased from a cat dealer. Either way, she became one of 14 cats put into training for this spaceflight mission. 

Ultimately Félicette was chosen, apparently due to her calm nature. But other reports indicate it may have been because the other 13 cats had put on too much weight. 

The cats in training harnesses. Félicette on bottom right.
The cats in training harnesses. Félicette on bottom right.

 

On the 18th of October 1963, she blasted off from a base in Hammaguir, Algeria. Her short flight included 5 minutes of weightlessness and reached a height of 157 kilometres. Her capsule then parachuted back down to Earth, where she was met by a helicopter recovery team, just 13 minutes after launch. 

After her successful flight, reports indicate Félicette returned to the French space programme’s laboratory for 2 or 3 months of further study. She was then sadly put to sleep, in order to further analyse the electrodes implanted in her brain.  

Félicette returns to Earth
Félicette returns to Earth

 

It’s a shame Félicette story isn’t more widely known. And that the few commemorations she has received are miscredited to Félix (who actually never existed at all). 

With other animal astronauts having statues and lasting memorials, we think Félicette deserves one too. 

It’s also important to note that Félicette, alongside many other animals that have braved space travel in the name of science, was ultimately an unwilling participant in this experiment. For this mission alone she, alongside 13 other cats, experienced arduous training prior to the mission and it eventually took her life. In that respect, this statue should serve as a reminder of the sacrifices made by all animal astronauts throughout the Space Race. 

Since Félicette plight, European and US space agencies have stopped sending cats, dogs and primates into space not only because it is unethical but also because superior, more human-relevant methods of study that don’t involve animals are now available.

 

Gill Parker is one of the most acclaimed animal sculptors of our time. Should this project be fully funded, Gill has kindly offered to help us bring this statue to life.

 

  

There is currently no final design for the statue. This is something that’ll be fully explored once funding is secured. It’s safe to assume it’ll include a cat and a rocket. But this needs to be finessed and worked out through small-scale ‘sketches’ in clay, before committing to a final design for the full-size statue (approximately 1.5 metres tall), to be forged in bronze.

Early sketches
Early sketches

 

The intention is to have this statue installed in Félicette's hometown of Paris.

 

A replica of Félicette’s original autographed postcard from 1963, with a thank you written on the back. 

£10 reward — Replica autographed postcard
£10 reward — Replica autographed postcard

 

A pair of enamel badges. One featuring a caricature of Félicette as the Astrocat. The other featuring a tracing of an actual headline from a 1963 article reporting on her flight. These are initial sketches, final designs may vary slightly. Includes the previous reward. 

£25 reward — Enamel badge set
£25 reward — Enamel badge set

 

A tote bag featuring an illustration of Félicette from renowned illustrator Louise Zergaeng Pomeroy. Includes all previous rewards. 

£40 reward — Tote bag
£40 reward — Tote bag

 

A much more detailed A2 (420 x 594 mm) screenprinted poster of Félicette by Louise Zergaeng Pomeroy. Includes all previous rewards. 

£65 reward — Screenprint
£65 reward — Screenprint

 

An even larger A1 (594 x 841 mm) screen printed poster of Félicette by Louise Zergaeng Pomeroy, printed with metallic silver inks. Delivered fully framed and signed by the artist. Includes all previous rewards.

£250 reward — Limited Edition Framed Print
£250 reward — Limited Edition Framed Print

 

Your name included on a single communal plaque, placed near the statue, listing the names of everyone else who pledged for this reward.

£250 reward — Shared Plaque
£250 reward — Shared Plaque

  

For such huge generosity, you’ll receive a 30cm replica of the final statue in bronze. (Below is just an illustrative mockup - your replica will be of the final design.) 

Plus your name engraved on a plaque near the statue as a permanent thank you for helping make this statue a reality. 

£6000 reward — Maquette and plaque
£6000 reward — Maquette and plaque

 

Although the initial funding goal will adequately cover the costs of making the statue, any additional funds raised would allow us to make this project even better. This could include: 

  • More time with the sculptor. 
  • A more ambitious sculpt. 
  • Help with currently unseen costs, such as transport, installation, landscaping and any administrative or legal costs to secure a location. 

And I’m not saying we should make this statue out of gold instead, but I’m certainly implying it.

 

Below is a working timeline for creating the statue, should this project be fully funded. These timings are approximate, and each stage could take considerably longer, or possibly be delayed by other projects these specialised craftsmen also have on.

 

Possibly.

I’m Matthew, a Creative Director working at Anomaly London. I have almost a decade's experience in delivering large-scale creative projects, such as films, experiences, apps and websites. 

Around 6 months ago whilst on the job, I came across a tea towel in the staff kitchen commemorating the 50th anniversary of the cat who went to space. There was no name for the cat on the towel, nor did it resemble Félicette. It was illustrated in a constructivist style, which naturally led me to think it was the Russians who sent a cat to space.

After Googling it, I became fascinated with Félicette’s story, how it had been forgotten over the years, and (like the design of the tea towel) misattributed. It felt like something big should be done to right these wrongs.

 

Please help us spread the word of Félicette's story. Below you can find links to the above Kickstarter video, with and without subtitles, along with a 60-second cut down if you wish to repost it. 

Pitch film (above):

60 second cut down:

 

I recommend the following:

 

Send an email to astrocatstatue@gmail.com

 

Whilst making this project, I have gathered any visual assets I could find online to help tell Félicette’s story. If you are the copyright holder of any of the content used in this campaign, and have any issues with its use, please contact me and I will happily remove it.

 

Risks and challenges

Know that I'm just one person, with a day job. So it may take some considerable time for rewards to be distributed. As such I've set the delivery window back to March 2018, but aim to post the rewards as soon as possible.

Creating a statue is a long process. A really, really long process. Not just physically creating the statue, but securing the location. For example, other Kickstarted statues, such as Detroit's statue to Robocop (which was fully funded in 2011), have still yet to be completed.

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Support

  1. Select this reward

    Pledge £1 or more About $1.33

    Thank you

    I'll think very fondly of you.

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  2. Select this reward

    Pledge £10 or more About $13

    Replica autographed postcard

    A replica of Félicette’s original autographed postcard from 1963, with a thank you written on the back.

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    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    483 backers
    £
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  3. Select this reward

    Pledge £25 or more About $33

    Enamel badge set

    A pair of enamel badges. One featuring a caricature of Félicette as the Astrocat. The other featuring a tracing of an actual headline from a 1963 article reporting her flight.

    Includes:
    • Replica autographed postcard
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    262 backers
    £
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  4. Select this reward

    Pledge £40 or more About $53

    Tote bag

    A tote bag featuring an illustration of Félicette from renowned illustrator Louise Zergaeng Pomeroy.

    Includes:
    • Enamel badge set
    • Replica autographed postcard
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    130 backers
    £
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  5. Select this reward

    Pledge £65 or more About $86

    Screenprint

    A much more detailed A2 (420 x 594 mm) screenprint featuring Félicette by Louise Zergaeng Pomeroy.

    Includes:
    • Tote bag
    • Enamel badge set
    • Replica autographed postcard
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    86 backers
    £
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  6. Select this reward

    Pledge £250 or more About $331

    Limited Edition Framed Print

    An even larger A1 (594 x 841 mm) screen printed poster of Félicette by Louise Zergaeng Pomeroy, printed with metallic silver inks. Delivered fully framed and signed by the artist.

    Includes:
    • Screenprint
    • Tote bag
    • Enamel badge set
    • Replica autographed postcard
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    Limited 16 backers
    £
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  7. Select this reward

    Pledge £250 or more About $331

    Shared Plaque

    Your name included on a single communal plaque, placed near the statue, listing the names of everyone else who pledged for this reward.

    Includes:
    • Screenprint
    • Tote bag
    • Enamel badge set
    • Replica autographed postcard
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Ships to Anywhere in the world
    24 backers
    £
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  8. Select this reward

    Pledge £6,000 or more About $7,955

    Maquette and plaque

    For such huge generosity, you’ll receive a 30cm replica of the final statue in bronze. Plus your name engraved on a plaque near the statue as a permanent thank you for helping make this statue a reality. Postage included.

    Includes:
    • Screenprint
    • Tote bag
    • Enamel badge set
    • Replica autographed postcard
    Less
    Estimated delivery
    Limited 1 backer
    £
    Kickstarter is not a store.

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Funding period

- (30 days)