On November 3, 1957, a stray dog became the first Earthling to orbit our planet. Astronomers call it Laika.
Laika spent her last moments on earth strapped into a windowless Soviet rocket awaiting liftoff.
The Soviet Union launched Laika into orbit on November 3, 1957, aboard the satellite Sputnik 2.
The Soviet Union had launched many dogs into outer space before. But Laika became a global sensation because she was the first to enter low Earth orbit.
Scientists have taken the famous dog from a Moscow street, quickly trained her, and then blasted her into space.
Astronomers attached Laika into a crude spacesuit and loaded into Sputnik 2 a month after the spacecraft’s predecessor, Sputnik 1, became the first satellite launched into low Earth orbit.
However, unfortunately, astronomers didn’t design the satellite to safely come back to Earth. So, the mission resulted in Laika overheating and dying five hours into the flight.
The Soviet program chose females because they were thought to be less temperamental than male dogs. Also, because it was more difficult to design suits that accommodated male canine genitalia.
However, this launch was a history of space exploration. It was the second time astronomers launched a spacecraft into Earth’s orbit, and the first time a living creature had been on board.
The Death of Laika
Initially, the Soviet publications claimed that the dog died, painlessly, after a week in orbit around Earth. However, Telemetry data showed that Laika survived the launch, according to Anatoly Zak of russianspaceweb.com.
The Soviet Government assured the concerned public that employees euthanized Laika before death. However, according to other sources, severe overheating and the death of the dog occurred only five or six hours into the mission.
“Decades later, several Russian sources revealed that Laika survived in orbit for four days and then died when the cabin overheated,” Zak wrote. ”
The spacecraft stopped beaming data home after its batteries died on Nov. 10, 1957.
“With all systems dead, the spacecraft continued circling the Earth until April 14, 1958, when it re-entered the atmosphere after 2,570 orbits (2,370 orbits according to other sources) or 162 days in space,” Zak wrote. “Many people reportedly saw a fiery trail of Sputnik 2 as it flew over New York and reached the Amazon region in just 10 minutes during its re-entry.”
There were many horrified American animal lovers, after finding what was going to happen to the hero dog. A few years later, President Dwight D. Eisenhower wrote of Laika in his memoir: “By a strange and compassionate turn, public opinion seemed to resent the sending of a dog to certain death—resentment that the Soviet propagandists tried to assuage, after it’s death, by announcing that it had been comfortable to the end.”
However, it was just a few more years that the first person reached space. On April 12, 1961, the Soviet Union successfully launched cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on an orbital mission and brought him safely back to Earth.