Pioneering Dog Launched 60 Years Ago Today


RIP, Laika: Pioneering Space Dog Launched 60 Years Ago Today

Laika, a mixed-breed canine, turned the primary dwelling being in orbit when the Soviet Union launched her on the Sputnik 2 mission on Nov. three, 1957.

Credit: NASA

Sixty years in the past in the present day, humanity launched the primary dwelling creature to orbit.

On Nov. three, 1957, the Soviet Union lofted a canine named Laika aboard the satellite tv for pc Sputnik 2. The milestone got here lower than a month after the Soviets kicked off the Space Age, and the Cold War house race, with the launch of Sputnik 1 on Oct. four.

Laika was not the primary animal in house, nevertheless. That distinction goes to some fruit flies that the United States launched on a suborbital mission in February 1947. (The Soviet Union began launching canine to suborbital house within the early 1950s.) [Photos: Pioneering Animals in Space]

Sputnik 1 was a 184-lb. (83 kilograms), beach-ball-size sphere that mainly simply emitted beeps because it circled Earth. Sputnik 2 was a lot bigger and extra elaborate; it weighed 1,120 lbs. (508 kg) and featured a number of scientific devices, in addition to a cabin for Laika, a small stray plucked from the streets of Moscow.

Sputnik 2 was a suicide mission for the poor canine; the satellite tv for pc was not designed to come back safely again to Earth.

Telemetry knowledge confirmed that Laika survived the launch, based on Anatoly Zak of Initially, Soviet publications claimed that the canine died, painlessly, after per week in Earth orbit. But that account has been referred to as into query over time.

“Decades later, several Russian sources revealed that Laika survived in orbit for four days and then died when the cabin overheated,” Zak wrote. “According to other sources, severe overheating and the death of the dog occurred only five or six hours into the mission.”

Sputnik 2’s batteries died on Nov. 10, 1957, and the spacecraft stopped beaming knowledge residence.

“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.”

Sputnik 2’s launch was one in every of three spaceflight occasions that shook the United States in 1957, inflicting widespread concern amongst Americans concerning the nation’s technological capabilities in comparison with these of its Cold War rival. The different two have been the liftoff of Sputnik 1 and the Dec. 6 failed launch of the three.5-lb. (1.6 kg) Vanguard Test Vehicle three, which might have been the United States’ first satellite tv for pc. (The satellite tv for pc’s rocket exploded, on nationwide TV, simply seconds after liftoff.)

The United States bounced again with the profitable launch of the Explorer 1 satellite tv for pc on Jan. 31, 1958.

It took just a few extra years for the primary individual to achieve house. The Soviet Union notched that milestone on April 12, 1961, launching cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin on an orbital mission — and bringing him safely again to Earth.

Follow Mike Wall on Twitter @michaeldwall and Google+. Follow us @Spacedotcom, Facebook or Google+. Originally printed on

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