Laika Space Dog: 61 years since the launch of Sputnik-2


61 years ago, on November 3, 1957, the Soviet Union launched the satellite Sputnik-2 with Laika Space Dog on board. This experiment proved that living creatures can survive in weightlessness.

As the scientist and inventor Konstantin Tsiolkovsky wrote, the first step of mankind is to fly out for the atmosphere and become satellites of the Earth. The first artificial satellite of the USSR launched on October 4, 1957. And then the question arose – can a person be in space? At the end of 1948, on the initiative of academician Sergei Korolev, a huge study was begun on determining the reactions of a living being to the effect of flight conditions on a rocket. After long discussions, they decided that they would use a dog for research.

Laika Space Dog /Source: Flickr

A State Commission on the organization and conduct of flying animals on rockets was established. Then, at the Kapustin Yar test site, pilot experimental launches of so-called “academic” rockets with dogs on board were conducted.

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And on November 3, 1957, Sputnik-2 with dog Laika entered the near-earth orbit. The purpose of this launch was to determine the possibility of living creatures at an altitude of up to 100-110 kilometers, followed by ejection and descent by parachute. Unfortunately, the dog had been living in orbit for only a few hours and died from overheating and increased stress.

Laika Space Dog /Source: Wikipedia

The English Society for the Protection of Animals even directed the General Secretary of the Central Committee of the CPSU, Nikita Khrushchev, a protest against animal cruelty. But the stay of Laika in space proved that all living beings, including men, are able to survive in conditions of weightlessness. As for the rocket itself, Sputnik-2 made 2570 revolutions around the Earth and burned in the atmosphere on April 4, 1958.

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