03 Nov 2017

60 years ago today: Laika the cosmonaut dog

On this day, 03 November 1957, the former Soviet Union launched the first-ever living animal into orbit: the first Soviet space dog Laika. Her mission on board Sputnik 2 stunned the world. Sputnik 1, the world's first satellite, had been launched less than one month before on 4 October 1957.

The flight was meant to test the safety of space travel for humans. The pressurized cabin on Sputnik 2 allowed enough room for her to lie down or stand and was padded. An air regeneration system provided oxygen; food and water were dispensed in a gelatinized form. Laika was fitted with a harness, a bag to collect waste, and electrodes to monitor vital signs. Unfortunately, Laika did not come back, since technology hadn’t advanced as far as the return trip.

However, Laika's place in space history is assured and the information she provided proved that a living organism could tolerate weightlessness and paved the way for humans in space.

In December 2015 a little memorial near a military research facility in Moscow was inaugurated.

Photo Credits: NASA / Alexei Novosti