Laika, the dog sent into space by Sputnik 2

November 3, 1957, a space dog named Leica It was sent into space by the Soviet Union to be the first object to orbit the Earth.

Laika, the dog that became the symbol of the Soviet Union

After building and launching spaceships that left Earth’s orbit, scientists sought to discover the conditions of life in other planets of the solar system. Therefore, they sent different animals to check the weather conditions. But the operation of sending a dog into space is on demand Nikita Khrushchevthe first secretary of the Central Committee of the Communist Party in the Soviet Union.

Scientists had only four weeks to design and build the Laika carrier ship. For this reason, they did not have enough time to plan Laika’s return operation. They knew before the launch that it was a one-way flight and that the passenger’s dog would die. However, this issue remained hidden for a long time.

The dogs were trained at a centrifuge center in Moscow. The scientists announced at that time that they chose Laika out of several dogs because of its resistance, self-confidence and build. Those who had worked with this dog described him as calm and warm-hearted.

A model of Leica inside the Sputnik 2 capsule on display at the Central House of Aeronautics and Astronautics in Moscow.

Laika was a stray husky-spitz on the streets of Moscow who was only three years old. One of the reasons for choosing him was his small size and calm temperament. Scientists had two basic criteria for choosing these dogs; Dogs must be strays and females.

The reason for this criterion was that stray dogs have more resistance and female dogs do not lift one leg when urinating, unlike male dogs. Leica was very popular. In the Soviet Union, dogs were printed on everything from matchboxes, razors, postcards, stamps, chocolates, and cigarettes.

Launch with Sputnik 2

Leica by Sputnik 2 sent into space This spacecraft was larger and more complex than its predecessor, carrying scientific instruments and a cabin equipped with cameras.

The cabin was equipped with an air recovery system and cushions, and Laika could sit or lie down in it. A set of electrodes was attached to him and he had access to food and water in the form of gelatin.

A model of the Sputnik 2 capsule carrying Leica was displayed at the Soviet pavilion at the Brussels World Fair. The lower chamber kept the dog.

The sensors recorded Laika’s heart rate before the launch at 103 beats per minute and after the launch at 240 beats per minute. After the spacecraft reached Earth orbit, Sputnik’s conical nose was successfully detached from it, but the A-block core was not separated as planned. As a result, the spacecraft’s temperature control system was disrupted and the cabin temperature reached 40 degrees Celsius. After 3 hours of weightlessness, the dog’s heart rate had finally returned to 102 beats per minute, which was three times longer than when the tests were performed on the ground.

The death of Laika

Initial telemetry indicated that the dog was agitated, however it was eating its food. But before Laika had a chance to starve or lack oxygen, she died of overheating and the rupture of the spacecraft’s heat shield.

Five to seven hours into the flight, his vital signs stopped, but the cause of his death was kept secret until 2002. The Soviets claimed that Laika’s death was caused by oxygen exhaustion on the sixth day, and that they killed the dog before it could suffer.

In 1999, some Russian sources claimed that Laika died on the fourth day due to overheating in the cabin. until Dimitri MalashenkofThe scientist in charge of the Sputnik 2 mission announced that Laika died a few hours after launch and during the fourth orbit of the spacecraft. He stated that due to the failure of the cooling radiators and the air conditioning system, the cabin temperature increased to 62 degrees Celsius.


The purpose of this mission was to prove that the crew of the spacecraft can safely pass the launch phase, enter orbit and experience weightlessness. Leica paved the way for human space travel. He also allowed scientists to obtain the first information on how living organisms react to the environment of space travel.

In Moscow, the memory of Laika has been honored with the construction of this memorial statue. The Laika statue was unveiled in 2008.

Although the experiment was a harrowing and harrowing experience for Laika, the Soviets claimed that her death was worthless in advancing space science. The death and launch of Laika had attracted the world’s attention so much that the Soviet political goals and messages from this mission were not well conveyed.

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