The True Story of Laika the Dog


On November 3, 1957, the U.S.S.R. stunned the world with a space sensation — the launch of Sputnik 2 with a live dog on-board. But many details of what happened to the mission have only recently been revealed.

The Space Age had started less than a month before, with the launch of the first Soviet satellite on October 4, 1957. Sputnik 1, a 40-pound sphere, carried a simple transmitter and was considered very heavy compared to the U.S. spacecraft under development at the time.

Enter Sputnik 2. The Soviet press boasted about the 250-pound object equipped with a cabin, providing all the necessary life support for a dog named Laika. Well, almost. The Soviets admitted soon after the launch that the spacecraft would not return, meaning that the animal was doomed from the start. Years after Sputnik 2 burned up in the atmosphere, conflicting scenarios of Laika’s death were circulating in the West.

Wikipedia’s entry on Laika and Sputnik 2.


  1. Poor little Laika! A martyr to the cause of conquering the heavens!

    Some of the snarkiest cold-war stuff I remember was some people saying how cruel the Soviets were for leaving that dog in orbit to die. *ahem* sour grapes *ahem*

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