Laika (Soviet dog).jpg
In November 1957, Laika became the first animal launched into Earth orbit, paving the way for human spaceflight during the upcoming years. This photograph shows her in a flight harness.
Other name(s)Kudryavka
SpeciesCanis lupus familiaris
BreedMongrel, possibly part-husky (or part-Samoyed) and part-terrier

c. 1954
Moscow, Soviet Union
Died3 November 1957 (aged 3)
Sputnik 2, in Low Earth orbit
Years active1957
Known forFirst animal to orbit the Earth
OwnerSoviet space program
Weight5 kg (11 lb)

Laika (Russian: Лайка; c. 1954 – 3 November 1957) was a Soviet space dog who became one of the first animals in space, and the first animal to orbit the Earth. Laika, a stray dog from the streets of Moscow, was selected to be the occupant of the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2 that was launched into outer space on 3 November 1957.

Little was known about the impact of spaceflight on living creatures at the time of Laika's mission, and the technology to de-orbit had not yet been developed, so Laika's survival was never expected. Some scientists believed humans would be unable to survive the launch or the conditions of outer space, so engineers viewed flights by animals as a necessary precursor to human missions.[1] The experiment aimed to prove that a living passenger could survive being launched into orbit and endure a micro-g environment, paving the way for human spaceflight and providing scientists with some of the first data on how living organisms react to spaceflight environments.

Laika died within hours from overheating, possibly caused by a failure of the central R-7 sustainer to separate from the payload. The true cause and time of her death were not made public until 2002; instead, it was widely reported that she died when her oxygen ran out on day six or, as the Soviet government initially claimed, she was euthanised prior to oxygen depletion.

On 11 April 2008, Russian officials unveiled a monument to Laika. A small monument in her honour was built near the military research facility in Moscow that prepared Laika's flight to space. It portrayed a dog standing on top of a rocket. She also appears on the Monument to the Conquerors of Space in Moscow.

Sputnik 2

Romanian stamp from 1959 with Laika (the caption reads "Laika, first traveller into Cosmos")

After the success of Sputnik 1 in October 1957, Nikita Khrushchev, the Soviet leader, wanted a spacecraft launched on 7 November 1957, the 40th anniversary of the October Revolution. Construction had already started on a more sophisticated satellite, but it would not be ready until December; this satellite would later become Sputnik 3.[2]

Meeting the November deadline meant building a new craft. Khrushchev specifically wanted his engineers to deliver a "space spectacular", a mission that would repeat the triumph of Sputnik 1, stunning the world with Soviet prowess. Planners settled on an orbital flight with a dog. Soviet rocket engineers had long intended a canine orbit before attempting human spaceflight; since 1951, they had lofted 12 dogs into sub-orbital space on ballistic flights, working gradually toward an orbital mission set for some time in 1958. To satisfy Khrushchev's demands, they expedited the orbital canine flight for the November launch.[3]

According to Russian sources, the official decision to launch Sputnik 2 was made on 10 or 12 October, leaving less than four weeks to design and build the spacecraft.[4] Sputnik 2, therefore, was something of a rush job, with most elements of the spacecraft being constructed from rough sketches. Aside from the primary mission of sending a living passenger into space, Sputnik 2 also contained instrumentation for measuring solar irradiance and cosmic rays.[2]

The craft was equipped with a life-support system consisting of an oxygen generator and devices to avoid oxygen poisoning and to absorb carbon dioxide. A fan, designed to activate whenever the cabin temperature exceeded 15 °C (59 °F), was added to keep the dog cool. Enough food (in a gelatinous form) was provided for a seven-day flight, and the dog was fitted with a bag to collect waste. A harness was designed to be fitted to the dog, and there were chains to restrict her movements to standing, sitting, or lying down; there was no room to turn around in the cabin. An electrocardiogram monitored heart rate and further instrumentation tracked respiration rate, maximum arterial pressure, and the dog's movements.[5][6]

Other Languages
العربية: لايكا
অসমীয়া: লাইকা
asturianu: Laika
azərbaycanca: Layka
تۆرکجه: لایکا
বাংলা: লাইকা
Bikol Central: Laika
български: Лайка (куче)
català: Laika
čeština: Lajka
dansk: Laika
Deutsch: Laika
eesti: Laika
Ελληνικά: Λάικα
español: Laika
Esperanto: Lajka
euskara: Laika
فارسی: لایکا
français: Laïka
Frysk: Laika
galego: Laika
한국어: 라이카 (개)
hrvatski: Lajka
Bahasa Indonesia: Laika
íslenska: Laíka
italiano: Laika
עברית: לייקה
Basa Jawa: Laika
ಕನ್ನಡ: ಲೈಕಾ
ქართული: ლაიკა
Latina: Laika
latviešu: Laika
Lëtzebuergesch: Laika
lumbaart: Laika
македонски: Лајка
മലയാളം: ലയ്ക
Bahasa Melayu: Laika
Nederlands: Laika (hond)
日本語: ライカ (犬)
norsk: Laika
norsk nynorsk: Laika
occitan: Laika
ଓଡ଼ିଆ: ଲାଇକା
português: Laika
română: Laika
Scots: Laika
සිංහල: ලයිකා
Simple English: Laika
slovenčina: Lajka
slovenščina: Lajka
کوردی: لایکا
српски / srpski: Lajka
srpskohrvatski / српскохрватски: Lajka
suomi: Laika
svenska: Lajka
Tagalog: Laika
తెలుగు: లైకా
Türkçe: Layka
Tiếng Việt: Laika
walon: Layka
Winaray: Laika