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Zoom Astronomy
Dogs in Space


Laika in Sputnik 2 before her launch on November 3, 1957.
Before astronauts orbited the Earth in tiny space capsules, dogs like Laika, Lisichka, and Bars paved the way for future exploration and for putting people in space.

Laika, the First Dog in Earth Orbit
Laika was the first dog sent into orbit around the Earth (other dogs were launched earlier on sub-obital flights). She rode on Sputnik 2, a Russian mission that blasted off on November 3, 1957 (Sputnik 2 was a metal sphere that weighed about 250 pounds = 113 kg). Laika was originally thought to have survived in Earth orbit for four days, dying in space when the batteries to the cabin over-heated. In 2002, it was revealed that Laika died roughly 5 to 7 hours into the flight, from overheating and stress.

After orbiting the Earth 2,570 times, Sputnik 2 fell back to Earth on April 14, 1958, burning up during re-entry.

Laika was a female mutt who was part Siberian Husky. Laika means "barker" in Russian.

Other Space Dogs
Between 1957 and 1966, the USSR (now Russia) sent 13 dogs into space in preparation for future missions. The dogs included:


Web Links about Space Dogs

Laika in Sputnik 2 before her launch on November 3, 1957.

Tass News Agency photo of Laika

A newspaper article about Laika from 1957, from the New York Times.

Sputnik missions from the University of Michigan's Windows to the Universe.

A page on Sputnik from NASA.

A page on space dogs from NASA

Animal astronauts from the Univ. of Minnesota

Stamps commemorating the Soviet space dogs.



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