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Emma Reust Today November 3, 1957, on the 40th anniversary of the October Revolution and one month after

the launch of Sputnik 1, a spacecraft called Sputnik 2 is launched into space with the first living animal to ever orbit the earth. The USSR is the first country to ever send a living animal into space, exceeding even their own remarkable feat of being the first to send a spacecraft into space. Laika is a good-natured mongrel of a calm disposition from the streets of Moscow. Soviet scientists chose a stray dog because they believe that strays have the ability to endure conditions of extreme cold and hunger better than other dogs. The dog appears to be around three years old and weights 6 kg. She was hand chosen from a group of
Laika in her harness

highly trained dogs by Soviet space-life scientist Oleg Gazenko to complete this groundbreaking mission. She was also trained by Oleg Gazenko at the Air Force Institute of Aviation Medicine especially for a trip into space. Laika was partly chosen because of her even temperament and small stature. Her temperament has been described as phlegmatic since she does not quarrel with other dogs. Laika was trained for Sputnik 2 alongside two other dogs, Albina and Mushka. Albina flew on two high-altitude test rockets and Mushka was used to test instrumentation and life support. Mushka was not chosen to travel to space because she refused to eat the gelatinized food and water. To help the dogs adapt to the tiny space they would soon be living in, they were kept in progressively smaller cages for periods as long as 20 days. The extensive close confinement caused them to become restless and for their general condition to deteriorate. Researchers found that the only thing to solve this problem was through long periods of conditioning. The dogs were

placed inside centrifuges to simulated the acceleration of a rocket launch and allow them to become familiar with the sensation. They were also placed in machines that created the noises of the spacecraft. Both of these training exercises caused their heart rates to double and their blood pressure to increase by 30-65 torr. The dogs were also taught to eat the special high-nutrition gel that would be their food in space. Laika is currently residing in a custom made pressurized cabin within Sputnik 2. The cabin allows enough room for her to lie down or stand. Laika is safely secured in a specially made harness
Laika in her custom made cabin

and is living off a diet of gelatinized water and a

special high-nutrition gel. An air regeneration system provides her with the necessary oxygen. The walls of this cabin are covered with a soft padding and have an intricate system of life support instruments positioned within to monitor Laikas vital signs including heartbeat, blood pressure and breath rate. The monitors indicate that Laika is slightly agitated but eating her food and in good health. The spacecraft that is carrying out this astonishing mission is the second spacecraft ever launched from earth and also the second one launched from the USSR. The craft was created within just three weeks. Sputnik 2 weights half a ton and is six times as heavy as Sputnik 1. Sputnik 2 is four meters high with a cone-shaped capsule and a base diameter of two meters. Besides the sealed cabin that contains Laika and equipment needed to keep her alive, Sputnik 2 also contains several compartments for radio transmitters, a telemetry system, a programming unit and numerous other scientific instruments.
Sputnik 2

Laika was placed in the spacecraft on October 31, 1957, three days before the start of the mission. A hose connected to a heater was used to keep her container warm and protect her from the extreme cold of the launch site. She had two assistants keep constant watch over her before the launch to make certain that noting went wrong. Just before liftoff on November 3, 1957 Laikas fur was sponged in a weak alcohol solution and carefully groomed, while iodine was painted onto the areas where sensors would be placed. At the peak acceleration of Sputnik 2, Laikas respiration increased to three times the pre-launch rate and the sensors showed that her heart rate had increased from 103 beats/min before the launch to 240 beats/min during the acceleration. After three hours of weightlessness Laikas pulse rate returned to normal. This took three times longer than it had taken during ground tests and showed how much distress she was under. Sadly, this brave little dog will not be returning alive to earth. Laika is to be euthanized with a poisoned serving of food before her oxygen runs out. Laika will always be remembered as a Soviet hero.
Laika right before the flight

Bibliography Abadzis, Nick, and Hilary Sycamore. Laika. New York: First Second, 2007. Print. "Laika - Laika, The First Animal in Space." 20th Century History. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://history1900s.about.com/od/1950s/p/laikathedog.htm>. "Memorial to Laika." Penumbra. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://www.novareinna.com/bridge/laika.html>. View, Google Street. "Space Dog Laika Finally Gets a Happy Ending : Discovery News." Discovery News: Earth, Space, Tech, Animals, History, Adventure, Human, Autos. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://news.discovery.com/space/laike-the-russian-space-dog-finallygets-a-happy-ending-110712.html>. Photos "Laika - Laika, The First Animal in Space." 20th Century History. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://history1900s.about.com/od/1950s/p/laikathedog.htm>. "Laika." Wikipedia, the Free Encyclopedia. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laika>. "Space Today Online - Animals - Dogs in Space." SPACE TODAY ONLINE - Space Today Online Covering Space from Earth to the Edge of the Universe. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://www.spacetoday.org/Astronauts/Animals/Dogs.html>. View, Google Street. "Space Dog Laika Finally Gets a Happy Ending : Discovery News." Discovery News: Earth, Space, Tech, Animals, History, Adventure, Human, Autos. Web. 19 Dec. 2011. <http://news.discovery.com/space/laike-the-russian-space-dog-finallygets-a-happy-ending-110712.html>.