Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin is rightly regarded as the first man to be found in space, but the road was paved by some other landowners. A few years before the revolutionary flight of Gagarin in 1961, Laika’s street dog was sent in a one-way mission in space, becoming the first creature orbiting the planet.
At that time, Laika’s launch was considered one of Russia’s biggest victories. Laika was collected from the streets just days before the launch of Sputnik 2. Satellite – the first artificial satellite sent into space in history, had its first trip only 1 month earlier.
This mission, in turn, was in order to check how safe it is for people to travel in space and what effect would this travel have on their health. Laika was not accidentally defensive – she was a dog with a peaceful character, and was not very big.
On November 3, 1957, Laika’s rocket was launched into orbit. Laika’s training, in spite of only a few days, consisted only of sitting in flight simulators and from being placed in smaller cages. Before Laika, both the United States and the USSR had sent other animals to the universe, but only to the sub-orbit. Laika was the first to enter zero-gravity.
As we have said, for her mission there was no return ticket, and scientists knew it and planned from the very beginning. They claimed that death would be humane, that 114 kilograms of Sputnik 2 would feed the dog and transmit the measurements of vital signs to the Earth until the oxygen reserves were exhausted. Before this happened – oxygen disappeared, the spacecraft was designed to feed Laika with poisoned dog food that would kill instantly and painlessly.
For years and years, mankind believed in the Soviet story of the dog-hero and human treatment. But in reality, Laika’s life’s end was far from dignified and painless. At the World Space Congress in Houston, Texas, in 2002, a former Soviet scientist, Dimitri Malashenkov, discovered that the dog died just hours after the launch, as a result of stress and overheating caused by a defective and hasty-designed control system of
Laika “lasted” just a few hours, and no Sputnik survived. After 5 months orbiting the planet, it returned to April 4, 1958, burning at the entrance to the atmosphere.
However, Laika paves the way for dramatic advancements in space flight. After it was followed other dog cosmonauts, 36 such – to be more precise, supplying Russian scientists with the necessary information that subsequently led to the mission of Gagarin.
A few years after the historical flight, the cosmonaut compared her situation with that of Laika and the other dogs who led the way into space:
“I can not yet figure out who I am. The first person, or the last dog in space? “