LAIKA THE STREET DOG FROM MOSCOW WAS THE FIRST LIVING BEING IN SPACE.

LAIKA THE STREET DOG FROM MOSCOW WAS THE FIRST LIVING BEING IN SPACE.

November 03, 2023

3rd NOVEMBER IS THE ANNIVERSARY OF THE FIRST DOG IN SPACE.

The most famous victim of research in the name of human advancement was Laika, the cosmonaut dog from Russia, destined to become the first living creature in space. Of the three dogs in training, the three-year-old Laika showed the most promising results in the centrifuge and adapted well to tight spaces, an essential requirement for the confined space capsule. The dogs also underwent surgery to implant cables with sensors to monitor their vital signs after launch, scheduled for the 3rd of November 1957.

At the time, nobody knew the effects of space flight on humans and whether they could survive outside the Earth’s atmosphere. However, the space programme scientists realised from the start that Sputnik 2 was a suicide mission, an unrecoverable flight. Sadly, the regrettable circumstances dictated that the canine astronaut would live for several days in space until the oxygen ran out when a pre-programmed delivery system would gently euthanise it with medication-laced space food.

The project director chose Laika for the mission, and lift-off for the historic flight took place as scheduled. During take-off, the monitors showed that Laika’s heart rate shot up three times faster than usual, indicating extreme stress. Then, unexpectedly after launch, when the nose cone separated from the rocket, part of the heat shield tore loose, causing irreparable damage to the thermal control system. As a result, the capsule could no longer maintain average temperatures, which gradually rose to above 40°C and became a veritable oven.

After several hours and several orbits around the Earth, Laika’s sensors failed to detect any further signs of life. Laika, the little street dog from Moscow, was catapulted to fame yet died alone, in abject terror and stress from hyperthermia, commonly known as heatstroke. Laika’s space coffin continued to orbit the Earth for another five months before burning up and disintegrating on re-entry to Earth’s atmosphere on the 14th of April 1958. By surviving for several hours, Laika’s sacrifice was not in vain, as she proved that life in space was a real possibility. In 2008, Russian officials unveiled a monument to Laika near the Moscow military research facility where her space journey began.

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