Subscribe to our free daily newsletters
  Space Travel News  




Subscribe to our free daily newsletters



Canine pioneer: Soviet mutt was first earthling in space

by Staff Writers
Paris (AFP) Oct 30, 2007
Fifty years ago Saturday, a perky-eared mutt named Laika, scooped up from the streets of Moscow, became the first earthling to breach our planet's atmosphere and enter space.

It was a short and painful voyage for the docile little stray, which died within hours after launch, but a crowning coup for the Soviet Union.

Only a month earlier, Moscow had humiliated the United States by lobbing Sputnik, the world's first satellite, into orbit.

Sputnik 2 added another thick layer of insult, expanding Moscow's lead in the emerging space race just as the USSR was celebrating the 40th anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution.

Besides its propaganda value, Laika's brief trip inside the pressurized 508-kilo (1,120 pound) capsule also proved that a mammal could withstand the rigors of liftoff and helped paved the way for future manned missions, both Russian and American.

The luckless canine avatar of Soviet power completed her first and last space voyage under a pseudonym.

Baptised "Kudryavka", or "Curly", by the scientists who trained her, the mongrel was to gain world fame as "Laika" -- "the barker" -- the name given to Siberian hunting dogs who ferret out game birds by barking. Laika looked more like a fox terrier, but apparently had a bit of Siberian hunter running in her veins.

On Sunday, November 3, 1957, at 10:28 pm, Laika lifted off on her one-way trip, facing a camera and dressed in a spacesuit laced with sensors to monitor her heartbeat, blood pressure and breathing.

The official version of her fate, which went unchallenged for 45 years, goes like this: Laika completed her week-long mission 1,600 kilometers (1,000 miles) above Earth and died peacefully, as planned, after a last supper laced with a strong poison.

But rumours circulated, one suggesting that the four-legged space pioneer had simply run out of oxygen.

The truth finally emerged during a conference in the United States in 2002.

Dimitry Malachenkov, a scientist at the Biomedical Institute of Moscow who worked on the Sputnik 2 mission, revealed that Laika had died from shock and heat exhaustion only hours after liftoff.

Terrified by the roar and the vibration of the engines, the dog lurched desperately to free itself at the rocket took altitude, its heart racing at three times normal speed.

Laika calmed somewhat as the capsule settled into orbit, but the respite was short-lived. A heat shield had been partially ripped off during the separation with the booster, and within a few hours the temperature inside the capsule had risen to 41 degrees Celsius (106 degrees Fahrenheit), rather than 15 C (59 F).

Five hours after takeoff, Laika showed no signs of life.

Her high-tech coffin orbited until August 14, 1958, when it burned up upon reentry into Earth's atmosphere.

Despite the operation's problems, Soviet scientists learnt enough from it to send more dogs into space and bring them back safely.

And less than four years later, the door to exploration of the cosmos opened for humans when Yuri Gagarin became the first man to reach outer space on April 12, 1961.

Laika, at a stroke, became the most famous dog that ever lived, although for animal welfare activists she was simply the best-known in a long list of animal martyrs who were sacrificed for space.

Today, at least half a dozen songs are devoted to her lonely, one-way trip.

Four decades after the flight, Russians unveiled a memorial to Laika at the Institute for Aviation and Space Medicine, at Star City, just outside Moscow, where she and two other dogs were trained.

Related Links
Space Tourism, Space Transport and Space Exploration News



Memory Foam Mattress Review
Newsletters :: SpaceDaily :: SpaceWar :: TerraDaily :: Energy Daily
XML Feeds :: Space News :: Earth News :: War News :: Solar Energy News


21st-century space flight salutes the father of sci-fi, Jules Verne
Turin, Italy (AFP) Oct 7, 2007
He lit the imagination of countless youngsters with tales of derring-do -- of submarines that explored the depths of the oceans, of adventurers who crept to the centre of the Earth, of doughty pioneers who travelled to the Moon.







  • Rocketplane Unveils New Suborbital Vehicle Design
  • Jules Verne Dry Cargo Prepared In Turin
  • J-2X Powerpack Test Article Installed On Test Stand
  • Dawn Of A Long Voyage To The Beginning Of Sol And Beyond

  • Russia launches first Proton rocket after crash
  • Ariane 5 arrives In French Guiana For Arianespace's Sixth Mission Of 2007
  • ILS Proton Launch Scheduled In November For SES SIRIUS 4 Satellite
  • Successful Ariane 5 Upper Stage Engine Re-Ignition Experiment

  • Shuttle may stay in space extra day for station inspection
  • Discovery docks with International Space Station
  • Discovery astronauts inspect shuttle wings, nose for damage
  • Crew Ready For Station Rendezvous And Docking

  • Astronauts find damage on space station
  • Astronauts Enter Harmony For First Time
  • Astronauts enter new module for first time
  • NASA crew completes second space walk, discovers damage

  • I Want To Be A Space Millionaire
  • Canine pioneer: Soviet mutt was first earthling in space
  • Seven Chinese apply to be space tourists
  • For the first time, women rule in space

  • Outside View: China takes space race lead
  • China to build fourth space launch centre
  • Six Thousand People To Be Resettled To Make Way For New Space Launch Center
  • China Moon Mission Chang'e-1 In Good Condition

  • Can A Robot Find A Rock. Interview With David Wettergreen: Part IV
  • Proton Rocket To Launch Glonass Satellites Friday
  • QinetiQ Establishes Service And Support Centre For Talon Robots In Australia
  • UCSD Researchers Give Computers Common Sense

  • Mars Ice Shaken Not Stirred
  • UA's Phoenix Mars Mission Gets A Chance To Lounge
  • Hawaii Reveals Steamy Martian Underground
  • Hummocky And Shallow Maunder Crater

  • The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright Space.TV Corporation. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement, agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by Space.TV Corp on any Web page published or hosted by Space.TV Corp. Privacy Statement