Laika the space dog


The dog Laika (Russian Лайка, barking. Dog Breed Siberia and northern Russia) was the first living animal to orbit Earth. She did it aboard the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2, November 3, 1957, a month after Sputnik 1 was launched into orbit.


Like other animals in space, Laika died between five and seven hours after launch, well ahead of schedule. The cause of her death, which was not revealed until decades after the flight was probably a combination of stress and overheating suffered, perhaps, was caused by a malfunction of the thermal control system of the ship. Although Laika did not survive the journey, her experience showed that it is possible for a support microgravity conditions, thus paving the way for human participation in space flight. After Laika, the Soviet Union sent into space 12 dogs of which 5 would come back to earth alive.

Laika was a stray dog from Moscow, which weighed approximately 6 kg and was 3 years old when she was captured for the Soviet space program. Originally called Kudryavka (curly) after Zhuchka (bug), then Limonchik (little lemon), and finally call it Laika, because of their race. The captured dogs were kept in a research center in this city, and three of them were tested and trained for the demands of the mission: Laika, Albina and Mushka.


On October 31, 1957, three days before launch, Laika was placed in the Sputnik 2, at the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan. As temperatures in the launch site were extremely low, heat the capsule to be maintained through an external heater and hose. Two assistants were responsible for Laika constantly monitor before the start of the mission. Just before takeoff, the November 3, 1957, Laika's fur was cleaned with a solution of ethanol, and they painted with iodine areas where the dog would sensors to monitor their bodily functions.


Sputnik 2 was launched on November 3, 1957. Laika's vital signs were followed telemetrically by ground control. Upon reaching full throttle after takeoff, the animal's breathing rate increased from three to four times normal, and heart rate from 103 to 240 beats per minute. Upon reaching orbit, Sputnik 2 conical tip came off successfully. The other section of the ship that should have been revealed (the "Blok A") did not, preventing the thermal control system malfunction. Part of insulation broke off, allowing the capsule reaches an internal temperature of 40 ° C. After three hours of microgravity, Laika's pulse had dropped to 102 beats per minute this decrease in heart rate had three times longer than experienced during training, indicating the stress under which he was the dog. The initial telemetry data showed that although Laika was agitated, he was eating. The reception of vital data stood between five and seven hours after liftoff.

The Sputnik 2 was not ready to return to Earth safely, so we already know that Laika would not survive the trip. Soviet scientists planned to give euthanasia with food poisoning, which consume Laika after ten days. However, the fate of the animal was not what he had planned. For years, the Soviet Union gave contradictory explanations about the death of Laika, sometimes saying the dog had died from asphyxiation when the batteries failed, or had been euthanized in accordance with the original plans. In 1999, Russian sources claimed that Laika survived at least four days and then killed by overheating of the spacecraft.


Laika has appeared in numerous literary books, mostly science fiction or fantasy too, often tell stories about their rescue or survival. The novel Intervention (Intervention) by Julian May, reports that Laika was rescued by aliens. In the novel Weight by Jeanette Winterson, the Greek titan Atlas is the capsule into orbit, and takes the animal. In the Doctor Who series is narrated a story about her funeral. In a chapter of the comic strip "Flash Gordon" appears Laika rescued by an alien race looking like doggie.

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