A dogs life

Laika (her name means Barker) was one of ten animals considered for the flight. All the dogs used were light-coloured mongrel bitches - light so they would be seen by onboard cameras, mongrels because they were considered more robust, and bitches to simplify the design of "nappies" used to handle body waste. Laika was found wandering the streets of Moscow and trained to tolerate increasingly confined spaces prior to launch. She was ultimately selected for the mission by Oleg Gazenko, an expert in the developing area of space medicine.

Sputnik 2 took to the skies on 3 November 1957, and within hours the Soviet Union was trumpeting its latest coup. The satellite weighed 508kg (1,117lb)

INSIDE SPUTNIK 2

Sputnik 2 had similar dimensions to Object D, allowing it to fit into the standard R-7 nose cone. This model has had the outer shielding removed.

radiation and particle detectors pressurized cabin containing life-support systems original Sputnik PS-2 pressurized core containing radio transmitter

LAIKA

LAIKA LIVES ON

Laika's image became an icon of the early Space Age, used on stamps, postcards, and even cigarette packets in the Soviet Union and beyond.

and entered orbit still attached to the exhausted 6,800-kg (15,000-lb) core stage of its R-7 rocket. State press agency TASS reported that Laika was adjusting well to the pressures of spaceflight, but that since it would be impossible to return her to Earth, the spacecraft carried a system to painlessly put her to sleep after ten days in orbit, before her food, water, or air supplies ran low. Regular updates followed, but nothing more was heard after a radio failure on 7 November. To the outside world, it was generally assumed that Laika had died of natural causes about one week into her flight.

It took 45 years and the collapse of the Soviet Union for the true story of Laika's fate to emerge. While the launch itself was a success, and Laika's heart rate rapidly fell back to normal levels, it seems that the satellite and core rocket stage were actually intended to separate. When the separation failed, it tore away some of the protective insulation, and also caused a malfunction in the thermal control system. Temperatures in the capsule rose rapidly to 40°C (104°F), and Laika's heart rate began to rise again. She died around six hours into the flight, from a combination of heat and stress.

Laika was one of the few animal casualties of the space programme, and the only one to have been sent into space with no hope of return. It is almost certain that, if time had allowed, Korolev would have attempted to design some form of re-entry capsule -not only could this have saved the dog, it could also have provided more useful scientific information. The flight made Laika the most famous dog in history, but in 1998 a reflective Oleg Gazenko said, "The more time passes, the more I am sorry about it. We did not learn enough from the mission to justify the death of the dog."

1957

8 November 1957

195Ö-

Following the failure of

the Navy's Vanguard

1959-

rocket, Project Orbiter

1960-

is formally restarted,

under orders to launch a

1961

satellite within 90 days.

1962

31 January 1958

1963

A Juno 1 rocket

1961

successfully puts the

Explorer 1 satellite

1965-

into orbit.

1966-

5 March 1958

1967-

An attempted launch of

1968-

Explorer 2 fails when the

upper rocket stage of its

1969

« nin

launch vehicle misfires.

1978

17 March 1958

1971

A US Navy Vanguard

1972

rocket finally succeeds in

placing a small satellite,

1973

known as Vanguard 1,

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into orbit.

1975-

26 March 1958

1976

Explorer 3 is successfully

launched with another

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Juno I rocket.

1978

23 May 1958

1979-

Explorer 1's batteries

1980

fail, and it ceases

transmission of

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information, though

1982

it remains in orbit for

another 12 years.

1983

1981

26 July 1958

Explorer 4 is successfully

1985

launched.

1986

1987-

24 August 1958

The launch of Explorer 5

1988-

fails due to a problem

with booster rocket

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separation.

1990

1991-

1992

1993

1991

1995

1996

1997

1998-

1999

2000

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CELEBRATING SUCCESS

William Pickering, James

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Van Allen, and Wernher

von Braun triumphantly

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display a full-sized

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model of Explorer 1 to a

packed Washington press

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conference after

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the successful launch.

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