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There's nothing like a good horror story in space*. I grew up watching Sigourney Weaver outsmart xenomorphs in her underwear and subsequently spent a little too much time reading the likes of Stephen King's "I am the Doorway," H.P. Lovecraft's "In the Walls of Eryx" and John Steakley's "Armor."
As a result, it's hard for me to read about space exploration without thinking of about its darker possibilities -- and I don't just mean aliens and distant Hell worlds. Leaving Earth's atmosphere is a dangerous endeavor and, major tragedies aside, there have been a number of smaller terrifying, grotesque and absurd episodes to come out of it. So if you'll allow me to serve as your cosmic Crypt Keeper for a few minutes, I thought I'd run though a few of the ones that get under my skin.
Space Corpses in the Sky: Space exploration research has claimed a number of animal lives, and while the idea of sacrificing monkeys and dogs on the altar of science is rather disheartening, the notion that there are dead simian and canine space explorers in orbit RIGHT NOW just adds to the creepiness.
Several early space missions involved re-entry procedures, but not every spacecraft was recovered. This leads many to theorize that perhaps dozens of mummified animals are still making the orbital rounds up there. Think about that the next time you wish upon a star.