Thursday, 16 November 2017

Laika at 60: What happens to all the dogs, monkeys and mice sent into space?

Stray dog sent into space in 1957 was first living creature to orbit Earth

Laika’s last moments on earth were spent strapped into a windowless Soviet rocket awaiting lift off.

The stray dog had enjoyed a meteoric rise to fame in 1957, having been plucked from a Moscow street, hastily trained and blasted into space.

That ill-fated mission resulted in Laika overheating and dying five hours into the flight.

But Sputnik 2’s launch – 60 years ago, today – was a defining moment in the history of space exploration; only the second time a spacecraft had been launched into Earth’s orbit, and the first time a living creature had been on board.

While Laika may have been a trailblazer in orbiting the Earth, animals were being employed in the name of space exploration more than a decade earlier.

Russian and American scientists have long used animals to test the limits of their ability to send living organisms into space – and return them unharmed.

The first sent into outer space were fruit flies blasted to an altitude of 68 miles inside a re-fashioned Nazi V2 rocket in 1947.


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