At that point just before we started launching me into space, there were space monkeys (and chimps) who took that heroic journey. That era lasted a relatively short time but fiction about those animals persisted.
Kravetz, Nathan. Illustrated by Susan Perl. A Monkey's Tale. Boston : Little, Brown. 57 p. 21 cm.
As a way to explain and make the whole launch into space process accessible to children primates in space was a favorite fictional topic. I have collected a number of these because of the illustrations that depict the real Mercury-style launches.
Also a little space humor doesn't hurt. The story revolves around a rocket that is launched too soon during a test.
Upon attaining orbit the monkey is able to repair a malfunctioning Russian manned capsule and able to trigger the re-entry of both capsules. This double landing is a great illustration of how the recovery felt to those who were there. Returning from the unknown whether primate or human left everyone with an enormous sense of relief.