# Do we count monkeys as crew?

We use the tag instead of because the latter might be interpreted as gender-specific. Do we also include the pre-Mercury flights that included monkeys and other primates as "crewed"? Or are they just passengers or cargo?

Remember, Ham the chimp pushed levers.

• found it below this answer! – uhoh May 6 '20 at 2:30
• I like your meta questions! This answer points out that crewed-spaceflight may be problematic as the distinction between a ships crew and its passengers continues to become more relevant over time. Perhaps that deserves some thought at some point? Maybe peopled-spaceflight (humor) or better yet human-spaceflight? – uhoh May 6 '20 at 23:48

"Crew" implies a certain level of operational capability that most animals are unlikely to possess, or to at least be able to express meaningfully in the context of spaceflight. I suppose it might be somewhat borderline with great apes, particularly ones like Ham or Enos that received special training to operate equipment. However, even in those two cases, the operations weren't really in support of the spacecraft or with a knowledge of the scientific purpose of the exercises, so I would say no, they are not crew.

That said, there are things that make flights carrying only animals similar to flights carrying humans, such as the need to control the environment.

• This does bring up an interesting thought, though. As commercial spaceflight expands and the distinction between crew and passengers forms, there will be the possibility of having an uncrewed flight with humans, that is a spacecraft controlled remotely or autonomously with passengers who have no meaningful operational capability. – called2voyage May 5 '20 at 18:07
• In other words, "crewed" and "manned" are not totally synonymous, but are probably close enough for the time being. I think it will be quite some time before a meaningful distinction between crew and passengers forms. – called2voyage May 5 '20 at 18:10
• Well...though even "manned" means more than just populated. It also implies operational capability. I guess really, they are pretty synonymous, we just don't have a good word for a craft that has people but no crew, because that's only really become a possibility recently. – called2voyage May 5 '20 at 18:21
• Perhaps a passenger tag would be the best solution for such questions. – DrSheldon May 5 '20 at 21:27
• @DrSheldon Probably, yes. I don't know if there's a real need for it now though, except maybe for suborbital ventures. – called2voyage May 5 '20 at 21:30
• We used "self-loading cargo" as a term for certain individuals... but animals are not that. I would say "crew" implies humans, even including politicians. – Organic Marble May 6 '20 at 15:00
• @OrganicMarble I agree that at present crew is basically every human occupant, even if their operational capabilities are questionable, but we have a firm line between crew and passengers on commercial airlines and I do think the same distinction will probably form on spacecraft one day if space tourism expands. That's pretty far out from now though. – called2voyage May 6 '20 at 15:18

Remember, Ham the chimp pushed levers.

Most of the time, in spaceflight discourse, the most significant distinction between "crewed" and "uncrewed" is relevant to safety, not to function.

Historically, when chimps have been aboard spacecraft, they were recruited for their expendability (even when we intended and hoped they would survive!) rather than their job performance.

Thus, questions about Ham's flight should not be tagged crewed-spaceflight (unless, of course, it's specifically asking about contrasts with Freedom 7 or something). We have an animals tag and at some point we may want a passengers tag.

• +1 for a passengers-like tag at some point – uhoh May 30 '20 at 0:30