56 years ago today, November 3,1957, the Russian space program launched a dog into space. Laika was one of three dogs tested to see which would go into space. All passed the test, but Laika was the lucky one to win a one way trip to space. Laika rode into space on Sputnik II where she would stay for eternity as there were no plans for Sputnik II’s reentry.
Laika means “barker” in Russian. She was a three-year old mutt that weighted 13 pounds. Before launch she was hooked up to machines to record what happened to her body during launch and also once in space. In addition to being the first animal in space she is probably the fastest traveling animal as well, she circled the earth every hour and forty-two minutes, traveling approximately 18,000 miles per hour.
While there was much debate as to how long Laika lived after the launch, According to a 2002 BBC article “After five to seven hours into the flight, no life signs were being received from Laika. By the fourth orbit it was apparent that Laika had died from overheating and stress. “ We also know that on the sixth day the life support in the module failed and on April 14, 1958 Sputnik II reentered the atmosphere and burned up. Her death sparked much debate over animal rights. In Russian, she is seen as a hero.
This part of the show tells the story of Oleg Gazenko, the Soviet scientist who selected and trained space-dog Laika, the first living creature in orbit. http://web.archive.org/web/20060614193101/http://spacedog.biz/gscfiles/gscgazscript.htm