Dogs in Space

Between 1957 and 1966, the USSR (now Russia) sent 13 dogs into space in preparation for future missions. Check out the lucky dogs that were part of a top-secret program that sent them where no dogs have gone before…


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1. Laika was a female mutt who was part Siberian Husky and was the first dog sent into orbit around the Earth in November 1957. Laika means “barker” in Russian.  Laika was originally thought to have survived in Earth orbit for four days, but in 2002, it was revealed that Laika died roughly 5 to 7 hours into the flight, from overheating and stress.


2. Lisichka (meaning “Little Fox”) and Bars (meaning “Panther”) – died during a test flight on July 28, 1960

girls in space

3. Strelka (meaning “Little Arrow”), Belka (meaning “Squirrel”),  were sent into space along with 40 mice, 2 rats and a number of plants. Launched August 19, 1960, it orbited the Earth 18 times. This was the first successful recovery of living biological specimens after an orbital mission.

space puppies

Strelka later gave birth to a litter of 6 healthy puppies; one was given to President John F. Kennedy as a gift.


4. Pchelka (meaning “Little Bee”) and Mushka (meaning “Little Fly”)- died when Korabl’-Sputnik-3 re-entered the Earth’s atmosphere at the wrong angle and burned up, (launched December 1, 1960)


5. Damka (meaning “Little Lady”) and Krasavka (meaning “Beauty”) – Launched December 22, 1960, but the third stage of the SL-3 rocket failed, and the orbital launch was aborted; the two dogs survived an unplanned suborbital flight.


6. Chernushka (meaning “Blackie”), was the tenth dog launched into space on March 9, 1961, along with a dummy cosmonaut (known as “Ivan Ivanovich”), a few mice and a guinea pig.


7. Zvezdochka (meaning “Little Star”) and a dummy cosmonaut in a space suit was launched on March 25, 1961 and orbited once in final preparation for the Vostok 1 mission. In the picture, from left to right: Strelka, Chernushka, Zvezdochka, and Belka.


8. Veterok (meaning “Breeze”) and Ugolyok (meaning “Little Piece of Coal”) were launched on February 22, 1966, in the satellite Kosmos 110 and was a 22-day mission.

More Celestial Facts:


Homeless dogs, plucked from the streets of Moscow, were selected for space travel because they fitted the program’s criteria: weighing no more than 7kg, measuring no more than 35cm in length, robust, photogenic, and with a calm temperament. These characteristics enabled the dogs to withstand the extensive training that was needed to prepare them for suborbital, then for orbital space fights.


Female dogs were preferred because they had a better temperament and fit better in the specially designed space suits (complete with acrylic glass bubble helmets) and capsule restraints.

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