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Message from the First Dog in Space Received 45 Years Too Late
Canine Nation ^ | Sunday, November 3, 2002 | unknown

Posted on 05/19/2007 2:30:32 AM PDT by Daffynition

HOUSTON, Tex. (USA) —  Forty-five years and five hours ago, the first Earthling broke through the atmosphere and into space.  It wasn't a man, a woman or even a monkey; it was stray dog.

That much is public knowledge, but a secret that has been kept for 45 years was just released last week at the World Space Congress in Houston.  "Laika", the first astronaut of the planet Earth, died of fright just after take-off.

Hardly the starship Enterprise, Laika's spacecraft was no bigger than a washing machine.

The report, presented by Dimitri Malashenkov of the Institute for Biological problems in Moscow, ended decades of speculation as to the fate of the great canine cosmonaut sent into space aboard Sputnik 2 on Nov. 3, 1957.  Russian authorities had previously circulated reports that Laika survived in orbit for four days and then died when the cabin overheated due to a battery malfunction.

In reality, medical sensors recorded that immediately after the launch, as her capsule reached speeds of nearly 18,000 miles per hour (28,800km/h), her pulse rate increased to three times its normal level, presumably due to overheating, fear and stress.  Five to seven hours into the flight, no further life signs were received from Laika.

Dr. Malashenkov's report came as a huge surprise to the scientific community.

"The overheating story has been around," comments Sven Grahn, a noted space historian.  "But this, dead after five to seven hours, that was a shock to me."

To Boldly Go Where No Mutt
Has Gone Before

Between 1957 and 1966, a total of 13 dogs were used in Soviet space flights, many of whom were recovered unharmed.  Laika was the only one Russian scientists knowingly sent into space to die; the time frame under which Soviet technicians had to work did not allow for the development of a space craft that could sustain life during a long flight or survive a re-entry without burning up. 

Sputnik 2 had been conceived and built in just under four weeks at the urging of then Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.

On the day of Laika's voyage, the New York Times printed: "the Soviet Union claimed a victory over the United States."

Many countries have issued commemorative stamps and postcards honoring the first dog in space. 

A Few Facts About Laika
and Soviet Space Dogs...

  • Laika's real name was "Kudryavka" (Little Curly).  The world had difficulty pronouncing the word, so scientists nicknamed her "Laika", which means "Barker" and is the Russian name given to dogs of her breed (she was a Husky mix).  American newspapers dubbed her "Muttnik".

  • Soviet space dogs were stray mutts gathered from the streets of Moscow and adapted in centrifuges that simulated the extreme G-forces of take-off.
  • Dogs were used because scientists felt that dogs could endure long periods of inactivity better than other animals.  As part of their training, they were confined in small boxes for 15-20 days at a time.
  • Female dogs were chosen because they did not have to stand and lift a leg to urinate.

  • Other dogs in space sent by the USSR following Laika are: Otvazhnaya (Brave One), Snezhinka (Snowflake), Bars (Panther), Lisichka (Little Fox), Belka (Squirrel), Strelka (Little Arrow), Pchelka (Little Bee), Mushka (Little Fly), Damka (Little Lady), Krasavka (Little Beauty), Chernushka (Blackie), Zvezdochka (Little Star), Verterok (Little Wind), Ugolyok (Little Piece of Coal) and several unnamed dogs.  For the full list, click here.
  • The first man in space was Major Yuri Gagarin aboard Vostok I on April 12, 1961, more than three years after the dogs paved the way.

  • The first woman in space was Valentina Tereshkova on June 16, 1963.  The first female in space, of course, was still Laika.
  • It was not announced until after the launch that Laika only had enough food and oxygen to live for 10 days and that the spaceship would not return.  The public was outraged. 

    Similar debates on animal testing and the use of dogs in scientific experiments continue today.

"The more time passes, the more I'm sorry about it.  We shouldn't have done it... We did not learn enough from this mission to justify the death of the dog."

— Oleg Gazenko,
one of the lead scientists of the Soviet animals-in-space program (speaking at a Moscow news conference in 1998)

The First Communication from Intelligent Life in Space

Laika first said "hello" to the people of Earth on a radio broadcast, Oct. 27, a week before her historic flight.  She barked into the microphone.

While in space, she transmitted a continual "beep-beep-beep" on a radio frequency that served as a tracking signal.  Soon after launch, Sputnik 2's transmitters failed and the signal ceased.  After six days, all contact with the craft was lost.

Laika's 1,120-pound (508-kilogram) capsule remained in orbit for a total of 162 days, circling the Earth 2570 times before burning up in the atmosphere on April 14, 1958.  To anyone watching the sky at that time, she made her final statement as a tiny falling star in the night.



Below is an excerpt from the front page of the

NY Times, Nov. 3, 1957.


Animal Still Is Alive,
Sealed in Satellite,
Moscow Thinks

Credit: Tass via The Associated Press


   LONDON, Sunday, Nov. 3 -- The Soviet Union announced today it had launched a second space satellite -- this one carrying a dog. Radio signals indicated that the animal was living, the Russians said.

   A satellite six times as heavy as the one sent up Oct. 4 now is circling the earth every hour and forty-two minutes at a height of 937 miles, Moscow said. This means that the speed is nearly 18,000 miles an hour for the 1,110-pound satellite.

   The dog was reported hermetically sealed in a container equipped with an air-conditioning system.

   Moscow Radio said data received from the second satellite indicated the "functioning of scientific instruments and control of the living activities of the animal are taking place normally."

First Trip Reported

   The new satellite carries transmitting equipment and apparatus for measuring cosmic rays, temperature and pressure. It also carries equipment for reporting the condition of the dog.

   It first passed over the Soviet capital at 11:20 P.M. Eastern Standard Time last night and then completed its first trip around the earth over Moscow at 1:05 A.M. today, the Soviet Union reported.

   The announcement said the second satellite was "dedicated to the fortieth anniversary of the great October revolution," which the Communist world will celebrate in Moscow beginning next Thursday.

   The new earth satellite is completing its orbit in about seven minutes more than the original Sputnik, still circling the earth.

Japan Receives Signals

   Moscow said the second sphere was sending out two radio signals. One, like the "beep" signal transmitted by the first satellite, is on a frequency of 20.005 megacycles. The other signal, at 40.002 megacycles, is a continuous note.

   In Tokyo the Japan Broadcasting Corporation announced that radio signals from the second satellite were being heard. The corporation picked up the signals twenty-three minutes after Moscow's announcement. The "beep" was at intervals of three-tenths of a second.

   A three-stage rocket shoved the original satellite into its orbit. The first Moscow announcement of the second sphere did not explain how it had been sent up.

   Although the announcement of the satellite's passing over Moscow indicated an interval of one hour and of forty-five minutes, Moscow Radio said the orbit would be one hour and forty-two minutes.

   Moscow Radio last week announced that an animal-carrying satellite soon would be launched.

   The Oct. 27 broadcast said preparations for launching a new baby moon were near completion and that a team of dogs had been conditioned to provide the first passengers to rocket off into space.

   The announcement was followed by a later broadcast direct from the laboratory where the dogs were being trained.

   The radio audience was introduced to a "small, shaggy dog named Kudryavka," which barked into the microphone.

   The Soviet Union announced Oct. 4 that it had the world's first artificial moon streaking around the globe 560 miles out in space.

   The Russians said the first satellite had been launched the day before by a multiple-stage rocket that shot the satellite upward at about five miles a second. Scientists around the world traced the first satellite in following days. Its characteristic radio signal -- "beep-beep-beep" -- provided the basis of tracking. The radio transmitter has since gone dead.

   President Eisenhower, at an Oct. 9 new conference, said of the military significance of Russia's first satellite: "That does not raise my apprehension, not one iota."

   On Oct. 13 the Russians hinted at a permanent earth satellite that would last for hundreds of years.

   An article in Pravda, broadcast by Moscow radio, said such a project was plausible in the light of available data about the density of the upper layers of the atmosphere.

   "It is completely realistic to speak about the launching of a satellite which will exist for tens and hundreds of years," the article added. "Such a satellite would be virtually a permanent earth satellite."

   A Soviet engineer, K. Malyutin, predicted on Oct. 26 that a satellite would be launched that would circle the earth forever and provide a platform for space ships.

   Mr. Malyutin, writing in the Soviet magazine Aviation, did not say when such a missile could be launched. He observed, however, that "contemporary levels of rocket technique allow the assumption that launching such a sputnik is fully realistic."

   In announcing the launching of the first earth satellite ever put in a globe-circling orbit under man's controls, the Soviet Union claimed a victory over the United States.

The New York Times - Page One
ISBN: 1-57866-135-8

TOPICS: Pets/Animals
A dated, but interesting/poignant tribute to man's best friend.

1 posted on 05/19/2007 2:30:37 AM PDT by Daffynition
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To: rainbow sprinkles

And the message?


Translation = I need to squat and can’t.

2 posted on 05/19/2007 2:34:23 AM PDT by mkjessup (Jan 20, 2009 - "We Don't Know. Where Rudy Went. Just Glad He's Not. The President. Burma Shave.")
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To: rainbow sprinkles

So he never made it into space? Wow. Or should I say, Bow-wow?

3 posted on 05/19/2007 2:46:45 AM PDT by Darkwolf377 (Anti-socialist Bostonian, Anti-Illegal Immigration Bush supporter, Pro-Life Atheist)
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To: IncPen; BartMan1


4 posted on 05/19/2007 3:00:14 AM PDT by Nailbiter
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To: rainbow sprinkles

OK, He DID make it into space...just didn’t last long.

5 posted on 05/19/2007 3:02:44 AM PDT by Darkwolf377 (Anti-socialist Bostonian, Anti-Illegal Immigration Bush supporter, Pro-Life Atheist)
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To: mkjessup
Well, fruit flies launched by the U.S. on captured German V-2 rockets in 1946 became the first reported animals sent into space for scientific study.

How do you think they felt?

6 posted on 05/19/2007 3:11:28 AM PDT by Daffynition (Do not seek to follow in the footsteps of the men of old; seek what they sought.)
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To: rainbow sprinkles

LMAO, JaWOHL! I know just what you’re talking about! :))

7 posted on 05/19/2007 3:43:20 AM PDT by mkjessup (Jan 20, 2009 - "We Don't Know. Where Rudy Went. Just Glad He's Not. The President. Burma Shave.")
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To: HairOfTheDog


8 posted on 05/19/2007 4:43:39 AM PDT by Slings and Arrows ("I AM A SEXY SHOELESS GOD OF WAR!!!" --
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