When we think about animals in space, we usually think of primates, such as Albert II the rhesus monkey and Ham the chimp, but did you know that the first animal to orbit our planet was actually a dog?
Laika was a stray mutt living on the streets of Moscow, but she was chosen by the Soviet space program to go on a historic adventure, because the Soviet scientists believed that she might be better prepared for the journey than most dogs because as a stray, she was already accustomed to extreme weather conditions and hunger.
On the 3rd November 1957, Laika the dog became the first animal to enter orbit around the Earth when she was launched into space on board the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2, it is believed that Laika died between five and seven hours into the flight due to overheating.
As part of her training, Laika was kept in a very small cage that was the same size as the ship, Laika was never intended to return as the technology to re-enter the Earth’s atmosphere had not yet been developed. However, the launch of a canine into space was seen by the scientists as a precursor to human spaceflight in order to determine the effect of launch and prolonged weightlessness on a living passenger.
Laika survived the launch, but died due to overheating as a result of a malfunction in the temperature control system. Unfortunately for Laika, the Soviet scientists hadn’t planned for her return voyage, and she was ultimately sacrificed in the name of science. VIA – HistoryPod