An author and amateur astronomer has told the tale of the very first cat to be flown into space in 1963. 

Stuart Atkinson has had 13 books published so far with Felicette: The Space Cat being his latest title. 

All his books have so far been astronomy and space-related titles for children - including the award-winning A Cat’s Guide to The Night Sky which was published  four years ago.

His latest title about the spacefaring cat is the story of the first and only feline ever to have flown into space after Laika - the first dog to travel to, and tragically die, in space in 1957.

Stuart said: "I have tried to publish this book traditionally for several years, but the publishers I approached were obviously wary of the subject matter, so I have self-published it on Amazon - just in time for the recent 60th anniversary of Felicette’s flight, and it is now available as a paperback and for Kindle too."

The book tells of Felicette’s story, where she came from, how she was selected, how she trained, and what happened during and after her flight.

There are in-depth descriptions of the rocket and capsule she flew in along with the legacy of her brief flight.

It also takes a look at the ways Felicette has been honoured since her 1963 mission when a bronze statue of her was recently unveiled in Germany.

It also looks ahead to how she might be honoured in the far future, by the men and women who travel to make their homes on the planets orbiting other stars. 

Also included is Felicette-inspired poetry, written by Stuart along with his ponderings of when another cat will follow in Felicette’s paw prints - perhaps to a future space hotel or even to the planet Mars.

Stuart added: "I should make it clear that my book is not a diluted, sugar-coated version of Felicete’s story.

"It is an honest and often emotional account of what happened to her, and how I, as a writer and an animal lover, feel about it.

"It is a fact that after her flight Felicette was put to sleep so the scientists could study how her body had been affected by her experience, and I do not skirt around the issues or emotions raised by that.

"Felicette was not a 'brave explorer' or a 'pioneer”. Like Laika she had no choice. So the book is a tribute, not a celebration in any way."

"Laika is famous around the world, which is only right and fair. Felicette’s story deserves to be known too."

“Felicette: The Space Cat” is available now from Amazon.