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Space & Astronomy

First dog in space launched 60 years ago

By T.K. Randall
November 3, 2017 · Comment icon 13 comments



Laika ventured where no dog (or human) had ever been before. Image Credit: NASA
On November 3, 1957, an unassuming canine named Laika became the first dog ever to venture in to space.
The mission, which was known as Sputnik 2, launched mere weeks after the Soviet Union successfully placed the world's first artificial satellite, Sputnik 1, in to orbit around the Earth.

Weighing a great deal more than its predecessor and with a much more elaborate array of scientific instruments, Sputnik 2 was designed, for the first time, to support a single occupant - a dog by the name of Laika who had been picked up off the streets of Moscow.

Shut inside a tiny capsule within the spacecraft, the courageous canine was unceremoniously launched in to space on what was essentially a suicide mission from the very start.
Laika actually did make it in to orbit, however there has been some disagreement over exactly what happened to her after that. At the time, Soviet publications indicated that the dog had died painlessly after spending a week in space, however more recent findings have suggested that she may have died within hours of the launch due to extreme overheating.

Either way, it was a sad end to one of the unsung pioneers of space travel.

The first human in space, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin, wouldn't launch for a further four years.

Source: Space.com | Comments (13)


Recent comments on this story
Comment icon #4 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 5 years ago
Before specifically condemning the Russians it is worth pointing out that, before the first U.S. astronauts flew, NASA did many experiments on animals, including rapid decompression tests on chimpanzees. As recently as 2010 NASA were irradiating squirrel monkeys to simulate long term space missions. It is wrong to single out one nation for animal testing when it was standard practice world wide.
Comment icon #5 Posted by qxcontinuum 5 years ago
i don't expect much from Americans either ...
Comment icon #6 Posted by Mr.United_Nations 5 years ago
But you said the Russian way so.. What made them choose a dog?
Comment icon #7 Posted by Kenemet 5 years ago
I remember this, and the astronaut chimps.
Comment icon #8 Posted by Waspie_Dwarf 5 years ago
What part of "standard practice world wide" did you not understand?
Comment icon #9 Posted by qxcontinuum 5 years ago
all of it...
Comment icon #10 Posted by paperdyer 5 years ago
While I agree, Waspie, there will always be more sympathy for a dog or a cat, than a chimp in my and many others eyes.  We shouldn't, but we place more value on animals we consider pets than ones we don't.
Comment icon #11 Posted by _KB_ 5 years ago
Let this sink in even a dog can be an astronaut while hundreds of thousands of people are complaining about how hard it is to find a job, lazy *Snip* ... p.s. no hate it's supposed to be motivational
Comment icon #12 Posted by TripGun 5 years ago
He was asked how the flight went, he simply stated "ruff"...
Comment icon #13 Posted by Derek Willis 5 years ago
Can anyone come with information on whether "Laika" was the name of the husky-like breed, or was Laika the actual name of the dog? Or was the dog - a stray taken off the streets of Moscow - simply called "Laika" because she was part-Laika? When I was young all the text books said she was "put to sleep" and died peacefully. That seems not to have been what really happened. However, as Waspie points out, I don't think the Soviet Union should be singled out as being the only nation that has used animals to test the conditions at high altitude and in space. The situation also has to be put into co... [More]


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