Laika The Space Dog


via Wikimedia Commons

A stamp commemorating Laika

Laika the Soviet space dog is known to be the first animal to orbit the Earth. Before becoming the famous space dog, Laika was a stray dog that was one of the few dogs recruited for a mission in space. The dogs were trained to be used to the conditions of the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2 that was going to be used for the mission. Laika was the lucky dog chosen to be the first animal to orbit Earth. However, lucky might not have been the word to use.

The dogs were under constant watch and had to be perfect before going into space. Their food had to be just the right proportions, and they were sometimes even left in small spaces for 20 days with only a certain amount of food, water, and space to move. Laika was chosen because she was quiet and small enough to go into the rocket. However, Laika was not supposed to be chosen to go. Instead, another dog named Albina was supposed to. Albina had already gone halfway into orbit and made it out alive. The Soviet Union had decided that Albina had already done her job, so Laika should go instead.

Everything was supposed to go smoothly and Laika was supposed to make it back, but a scientist named Sergei Korolev was forced to change his plans. The Soviet Union demanded that they needed something bigger and better than the Americans, so Korolev had to build a whole new rocket in one month. The rocket was not roomy and was in fact no bigger than a washing machine. Even though there was almost no room for the dog, they put Laika in and gave her only a certain amount of food and water. They also chained her so she couldn’t move around. Almost everyone knew that this was a suicide mission for the dog and that caused an outrage throughout Russia. The Russians did not want the dog to be a part of the trip, especially since she was most likely going to die. However, their rants were ignored and Laika was sent off into space.

On November 3, 1957, Laika was sent off and unfortunately died 7 hours after liftoff. Something on the rocket had malfunctioned, and the rocket started overheating. This caused a lot of stress on Laika and she sadly died in low Earth orbit. It was no surprise that she had passed away, because everybody was sadly already expecting it. Although it was a sorrowful moment, it was a huge victory for the Soviet Union. They were proud to say that they had the first animal to orbit around Earth and even prouder to say that Laika was the dog that helped them achieve their goal.