The dogs were the first members of Russian space missions before the launch of cosmonauts out of the Earth’s atmosphere.
They are the heroes who helped conquer the current universe.
Before the arrival of man on the Moon in 1969, dozens of experiments with living beings were carried out to guarantee the safety of astronauts in future space trips. This is how, in the midst of the dispute between the United States and the former Soviet Union , the dogs became the heroes of the programs, giving even their lives for science.
The Soviet space program was characterized by being one of the most advanced at the beginning of this space tension and in order to advance in the studies, they used 36 dogs, each of which left a story to remember forever. Although its use is still questioned due to the cruelty that an animal might have had to go into space, its legacies were key to the development of space skills in both the USSR and the US.
Laika is the most famous in the entire show . She was a stray and her mission was to complete several orbits outside of Earth until she ran out of oxygen. She was doomed to die ever since she was picked up.
Laika was sent into space on Sputnik 2, dying within hours of launch. Her work made her a hero of the Russian space agency, becoming a cult image throughout the national culture.
Dezik, Tsygan and Lisa
The first Russian dogs to fly in the program were Dezik, Tsygan and Lisa in 1951. For their first flight, only at 110 kilometers in altitude, the first two managed to survive the first suborbital flight. In September of that year, Dezik joined Lisa for another flight, but they both died.
Tsygan was adopted by physicist Anatoli Blagonravov.
Bars and Lisichka
After Laika, two new puppies were sent into space, including the almost pet of Sergei Korolev, the best rocket engineer of the time. Bares and Lisichka were great friends inside the cosmodrome and died together when the orbiter where they were launched exploded within seconds of taking off.
Belka and Strelka
But not all animals launched into space died. Belka and Strelka spent a full day on Sputnik 5 in orbit, returning safely to Earth. Along with them, a rabbit, 42 mice and two rats traveled. The mission was a complete success, with all animals surviving.
Interestingly, Strelka had six cubs on Earth. One of them, Pushinka, was a gift from President Nikita Khrushchev to Caroline Kennedy, a fixture of US President John F. Kennedy.
Belka and Strelka even have their own animated movie.
Pchelka and Mushka
These two puppies orbited the Earth on Sputnik 6, but a navigational error made scientists decide to destroy the ship on its re-entry into the atmosphere. Mushka was destined to travel with Laika on Sputnik 2, but after passing the tests, she felt unwell and did not eat, which prevented her from traveling.
“Negrita” was one of the most beloved on the show, traveling on Sputnik 9 with a mouse and a guinea pig. Until that occasion, two dogs were sent together, but for this flight a dummy was sent that was ejected from the capsule during re-entry. Fortunately, Chernushka survived the flight.
On March 25, 1961, the last Sputnik was launched with the dog Zvíozdochka (Little Star) and a doll on board.
The following month, in April 1961, the success of the program allowed Yuri Gagarin to become the first man in space , marking the beginning of manned flights to orbit.
Before the first long-duration cosmic flight (eighteen days), two dogs, Veterok and Ugoliok, were put into orbit on February 22, 1966 in order to remain there for twenty-two days so that scientists could study the effects on their bodies as they passed an extended period of time in space. The rest is history.