First Traveller into Cosmos…
…reads a 1959 Romanian stamp with Laika’s adorable face stenciled onto it. For those who have heard of her, she marks a historical event: first animal to orbit earth. The plan was cooked up as a way to mark the successful launch of Sputnik 1. But, the idea of sending a dog into space had already been being pushed around the drawing board! Engineers weren’t ready to send people up there, so why not try something else? After all, they had sent pups into sub-orbit in the past. Totally on the up and up, right?
Chosen By Chance…Destined For Greatness
There were 3 dogs plucked from the hard life of the Moscow streets, all ready to enter the rigors of space travel training. Laika was found weighing about 11 pounds, estimated 3 years old, and was nicknamed Muttnik by America. Though, the Russain flight engineers affectionately called her many names! It was simply a chance that the name Laika stuck. Her sweet demeanor made her stand above the other dogs who had been chosen to start training (Albina and Mushka). So, she was prepped to be the mission’s pilot. But sadly, it was known the trip on Sputnik 2 was a one-way ticket.
Sputnik 2 was designed to hold Laika in a tight corridor. She had undergone a meticulous grooming, surgery designed to help monitor her vitals, and had been trained to eat a high protein space-food. She was suited up, and the launch was set into motion. Unfortunately, the mission had problems from the start. Sputnik 2 had been rushed into completion, and systems seemed to begin failing very quickly. To keep a long and sad story short, Laika lived approximately 5 hours in space. Cause of death was confirmed in 2002 by Dimitri Malashenkov: the cabin over heated after thermal coating had been ripped lose in the launch.
A Norwegian band named The Hungry Hearts have honored Laika’s amazing story with a powerful, visually stunning electro-pop ballad performance.