Enlarge / An effigy of Laika inside a replica of satellite Sputnik II at the Central House of Aviation and Cosmonautics in Moscow. (credit: MLADEN ANTONOV/AFP/Getty Images)
After the Soviet rocket genius Sergei Korolev led that nation’s space program masterfully in the 1950s, culminating with the launch of Sputnik 1 on October 4, 1957, one might have expected that the country would have taken time to celebrate his achievements.

Thanks to Korolev, with that small, 60cm spherical satellite, the Soviet Union had just won the opening salvo of the Space Race.
But no.

After Sputnik 1, when Korolev met with the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev, the premier wanted to press his advantage over the United States. “We never thought that you would launch a Sputnik before the Americans,” Khrushchev told Korolev, according to cosmonaut Georgy Grechko. “But you did it. Now please launch something new in space for the next anniversary of our revolution.”
That “something” would be a dog, a female dog.

And she was very, very unlikely to survive the ordeal.
Read 7 remaining paragraphs

Leave a Reply