Carriers and other vessels got infested with rodents. So cats were not just moral boosters (which they very much were) they were also working members of the crew. Some have even been immortalized for surviving multiple attacks on their ships, etc. Military dogs have been recognized for the important roles they’ve played but I think cats kinda get lost in the shuffle of military animals sometimes.
January 28, 1986: Space Shuttle Challenger Breaks Apart After Launch
Barely 70 seconds into its flight, the space shuttle Challenger broke apart on this day in 1986, killing all seven astronauts aboard. The disaster was caused by a faulty seal in one of the rockets on the shuttle. The tragedy led to a 32-month hiatus of the shuttle program.
Photo: The STS-51L crew, who were lost aboard the Challenger (NASA). Front row: Michael J. Smith, Dick Scobee, Ronald McNair. Back row: Ellison Onizuka, Christa McAuliffe, Gregory Jarvis, Judith Resnik.