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November 3, 1957: mission to space of the dog Laika

63 years ago the launch of Sputnik 2

A "sacrifice" in the name of science. The date of November 3 is one of the most important in the history of space, since exactly 63 years ago the second ever artificial satellite, Sputnik 2, was launched into orbit. It was precisely November 3, 1957, a month after the official debut, but there was much more hype for a very specific reason. On board Sputnik 2 was the first living being destined to reach space, the dog Laika; its history is very famous and has been deepened several times in all its drama.

First of all, it must be specified that the name with which the animal has gone down in history is a mistake: "Laika" is only the conventional Russian term with which the breed is identified, in reality the first being who had to "discover" the space was called Kudrjavka. Neither Moscow nor Washington had the right experience for such a mission, in particular they did not even know if the body of a person or an animal would last long without gravity. Laika was 3 years old and the launch of the satellite took place from the Baikonur cosmodrome. According to some official sources, the signals from Sputnik 2 lasted seven hours before absolute silence, although Russia later reported the dog's survival for more than four days.

The satellite, on the other hand, re-entered the Earth's atmosphere five months later, on April 14, 1958, after more than 2,500 circles around the Earth. The capsule that ended up in orbit 63 years ago weighed 18 kilograms and the interior was designed to allow Laika to lie comfortably or stand up, without forgetting the food and water prepared in the form of a gel. The dog did not survive due to temperature changes, Belka and Strelka were luckier than her, two other dogs who returned safely in 1960 at the end of a space mission aboard the Sputnik 5 satellite.

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AVIONEWS - World Aeronautical Press Agency