Dogs in space
Meet Laika, the first dog to fly into space and the very first living creature to be launched out of Earth’s atmosphere.
All about Laika
Laika began her career as a space dog at the age of three. She was found roaming the streets as a stray in Moscow and was chosen to train for space flight because scientists believed that dogs from this area were well adjusted to extreme conditions. Dogs were also the preferred animal at the time to train for space missions as they were the most likely animal to be able to endure the endless hours of sitting still.
The first dog in space
Laika was one of three dogs who were trained by Russian scientists for the Sputnik 2 flight
on 3 November 1957. The other two dogs – Albina and Mushka – were used for other forms of space training, such as eating a special high-nutrition gel that would be their food for the duration of their space trip.
The space race
The launch of Sputnik 2 followed a month after the launch of Sputnik 1, which was the first man-made craft to be sent into orbit. The launch of both shuttles sparked the first of many spacecraft launches during the late ’50s and ’60s by Russia and the USA. This is often referred to as the ‘space race’.
Sad, but true
It has been revealed only in recent years that Sputnik 2 had not yet developed the technology to de-orbit, meaning that Laika was never expected to survive the trip. Experts believe that Laika had actually passed away by the seventh hour on board the flight, from overheating. The good news is that in 2008 Russian officials acknowledged the huge sacrifice Laika made for Russian research and built a statue in her honour. The statue features a dog standing on a spaceship and sits at the research facility in Moscow.