Laika

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Laika, first dog launched into space, on 1959 postage stamp from Rumania
Laika in space suit. Chosen dog was white to photograph better

Laika (Russian: Лайка, meaning "Barker"; c. 1954 – November 3, 1957) was a Soviet Union space dog. She was one of the first animals in space, and the first animal to orbit the Earth.[1] She was a mix of a Siberian Husky and a terrier. The reason for sending a dog into space was to get information about the behavior of living organisms in a space environment. Information from the flight led to the discovery of solar (from the sun) and cosmic radiation.

Laika had been a stray dog living in the streets of Moscow. She underwent training with two other dogs. She was then chosen to be the dog to go up in the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2. It was launched into outer space on November 3, 1957.

Fate of Laika known[change | change source]

Not much was known about how spaceflight would affect living animals at the time of Laika's mission. There was also no way, at that time, to bring the satellite back down to Earth. So all the scientists knew there would be no way for Laika to survive her trip. It was necessary to send a dog first as a test, because it was not thought that humans could live in outer space.[2]

Before her trip in Sputnik, one of the scientists took Laika home to play with his children. Dr. Vladimir Yazdovsky wrote: “I wanted to do something nice for her: She had so little time left to live.”[3]

One of the technicians getting the capsule ready before final lift-off said that "after placing Laika in the container and before closing the hatch, we kissed her nose and wished her bon voyage, knowing that she would not survive the flight."[4]

Death in space[change | change source]

Laika died within hours from overheating. Her body temperature got way too hot for her to continue to live.[5] The heat in her spacecraft had quickly risen to 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).[3] The true cause and time of her death were hidden from people until 2002. Instead, it was reported that she died when her oxygen ran out on day six.[6] Another untruth, as the Soviet government first said, was that she was euthanised (put to sleep) before her oxygen ran out.

In 1998, Oleg Gazenko, a top-level scientist with the project, said to news reporters "The more time passes, the more I'm sorry about it. We did not learn enough from the mission to justify the death of the dog...".[7]

Return to Earth[change | change source]

Over five months later, after 2,570 orbits, Sputnik 2 burned up—along with Laika's remains—during re-entry on April 14, 1958.[8]

Memorial[change | change source]

On April 11, 2008, Russian officials opened a monument to Laika. It was built near the military research facility in Moscow which prepared Laika's space flight. It is of a dog standing on top of a rocket.[2][9]

References[change | change source]

  1. "Laika the Dog & the First Animals in Space". Space.com. http://www.space.com/17764-laika-first-animals-in-space.html. Retrieved September 22, 2014.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Vladimir Isachenkov (11 April 2008). "Russia opens monument to space dog Laika". Associated Press. http://usatoday30.usatoday.com/news/world/2008-04-11-177105809_x.htm. Retrieved August 28, 2014.
  3. 3.0 3.1 Palya Diren (2014 March). "Laika, The First Animal in Space". Science Penguin website. http://sciencepenguin.com/laika/. Retrieved 29 August 2014.
  4. "Sputnik-2". Russianspaceweb.com. http://www.russianspaceweb.com/sputnik2_preflight.html. Retrieved 2014 August 28.
  5. Malashenkov, D. C. (2002). "Abstract:Some Unknown Pages of the Living Organisms' First Orbital Flight". IAF abstracts (Astrophysics Data System): 288.
  6. Beischer, DE; Fregly, AR (1962). "Animals and man in space. A chronology and annotated bibliography through the year 1960". US Naval School of Aviation Medicine ONR TR ACR-64 (AD0272581). http://archive.rubicon-foundation.org/9288. Retrieved 2014 August 28.
  7. Dick Abadzis, afterword to Laika, First Second, 2007, ISBN 1-59643-302-7
  8. "The Story of Laika". moscowanimals.org. Archived from the original on 2006-08-16. http://web.archive.org/web/20060816092218/http://www.moscowanimals.org/laika/laika.html. Retrieved 2014 August 28.
  9. "Laika".accuweather.com. Retrieved on 2014 August 2014.

Other websites[change | change source]