(Photo credit: http://fuel-design.com/publishing/soviet-space-dogs)
(Image shows two dogs sitting on top of a planet alongside the title of the book: Soviet space dogs)
On 3 November 1957, Laika was the first living being in outer space, giving her instant global fame. Her death a few hours after launching was used to transform her into a symbol of patriotic sacrifice. She has inspired films and songs, had monuments erected to her, and countless mementos made with her image.
Laika is not the only canine cosmonaut that died at the hands of the Soviet space program; more than a dozen other dogs lost their lives before her. (Similarly, during the Cold War-era Space Race, NASA in the United States sacrificed several monkeys and apes to test flight conditions for humans.)
Subsequent canine space travellers, Belka and Strelka, were the first to return alive, and were immediately featured in children’s books and cartoons. They became beloved stars at a time when the USSR frowned on celebrating individual achievements. (more…)