The world’s first astronaut Laika’s 60th anniversary
November 3, 2017 marks the 60th anniversary of the day a dog was sent into space for the first time and literally became the ‘first astronaut’.
Post the success of Sputnik-1, launched on October 4, 1957, Soviet leader at the time Nikita Khrushchev ordered the team to send a dog into space.
Laika was a dog with humble beginnings who would become a global star. The first living being to leave the Earth’s orbit, taking off 60 years ago today in the Russian satellite Sputnik on Nov. 3, 1957, the stray mutt landed a place in history.
Laika became the first living creature to go into space. And the first being to die there. It was a one-way mission. After she made the flight, the world was told that Laika would survive a week in space, with plenty of food and water before passing away.
According to Le Figaro (in French), international concern for Laika sparked conversations in which Russian officials reassured critics that the dog would be safely returned to Earth in eight days. The Russians were testing whether a living being could survive weightlessness, and Laika had been trained to be comfortable in ever-smaller boxes, surviving on space rations of jellied foods, ahead of her journey.
Officially, Laika was poisoned through her food after about a week to prevent a painful death when reentering the Earth’s atmosphere. The satellite that carried her burned on April 14, 1958.