What happened to Laika the dog, is she still out in space somewhere?

Danielle Salt August 18, 2022
What happened to Laika the dog, is she still out in space somewhere?
Photo by: Sovfoto/Universal Images Group via Getty Images

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What happened to Laika the dog the Soviets sent on a solo mission into space? After Russia’s space program ended, was she ever retrieved?

Laika was sent into space in 1957 on the Russian satellite Sputnik 2 as a part of the booming space race.

The Soviets decided to choose a stray dog from the Moscow streets as they thought that using a dog with a strong survival instinct would help the animal be more prepared for the harsh conditions of space travel.

Other conditions for the choosing of the space dog were a small body size to fit in the rocket, a relatively bright fur coat to be easily seen and the dog had to be a female to fit into the space suit.

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Photo by Manchester Daily Express/SSPL/Getty Images

Meet Laika the dog: Russia’s unlikely candidate for space travel

Laika was a stray dog that fit all of the Soviet requirements for space travel. She was a stray mixed breed Siberian husky and terrier, and was chosen for her calm nature and temperament.

Laika trained for space travel by being exposed more and more to smaller confined spaces. She was spun in a centrifuge to become more accustomed to the feeling of weightlessness and was taught to eat food in jelly form.

It is rumored that her backup for the space launch was a dog called Albina. It is said that the Soviets decided to send Laika up instead as they were more attached to Albina who had recently had puppies.

A picture taken on November 1, 2017 shows boys playing a game on a mobile phone next to the dog Laika’s space container used for trainings ahead of blasting off to orbit the Earth on November 3, 1957, at the Central House of Aviation and Cosmonautics in Moscow. Three and a half years before Russian cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first man in space, a dog called Laika was in 1957 the first living being to orbit the Earth. The stray from Moscow is one of many animals who preceded humans in the conquest of space; like most of the others, she did not survive. / AFP PHOTO / Mladen ANTONOV (Photo credit should read MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP via Getty Images)

As an act of compassion, Dr. Vladimir Yazdovsky wrote in his book that he wanted to do something nice for her a few days before the rocket launch by bringing her home to play with his children, due to the fact she had so little time left.

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What happened to Laika out in space?

There have been a large number of accounts discussing Laika’s death.

Data according to Anatoly Zak show that Laika survived the launch. Originally the Soviets claimed that the dog died painlessly after a week in Earth orbit but the claim has since come under scrutiny.

The satellite air conditioning system unfortunately failed and Laika most like suffered as a result of a severe increase in heat resulting in her death.

Russian medical doctor and space dog trainer Oleg Gazenko revealed in 1993 that Laika probably died about six hours into the mission due to overheating. No specific time frame has been fully confirmed. The satellite was not designed to bring Laika back home to Earth.

Sputnik 2’s batteries died on Nov. 10, 1957, and the spacecraft stopped beaming data home.

Photo by SSPL/Getty Images

Was the astronaut pup ever retrieved after her death?

Sputnik 2 and Laika orbited the Earth for a few months before Sputnik 2 fell from its orbit and plummeted into the atmosphere, disintegrating into nothing.

A memorial for her is found at Star City Russia, the Russian Cosmonaut training facility where she is remembered as the pioneering dog who lead the way for man to be able to travel into space.

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