Babe Among the Stars: Laika the Space Dog

0 Conversations

Galaxy Babe's column banner, showing a full moon and some little folk looking up at the sky

Mortal as I am, I know that I am born for a day. But when I follow at my pleasure the serried multitude of the stars in their circular course, my feet no longer touch the earth - Ptolemy

Laika the Space Dog

On 3 November it is the 57th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik 2, which contained the first creature to venture beyond the safety of Earth's atmosphere, Laika, a female fox terrier. She was selected for the experiment partly due to her temperament (quiet, charming and did not fight with other dogs) and also her ability to sit still whether or not she was restrained. At the time of the launch, the Soviet Union (now Russian Federation) were highly secretive and generally only bragged about their successes. They reported that the test on how a living creature would fare in space was a success as they had monitored Laika's reactions for six days then remotely euthanised her before the oxygen ran out. This was a falsehood; in 2002 the Russians revealed that no lifesigns were received from Laika following five to seven hours into the mission. The world's first canine astronaut had died from overheating and stress. There was no way to retrieve the spacecraft so Laika's body continued to orbit planet Earth more than 2,500 times before Sputnik 2 disintegrated in April 1958. Laika is immortalised in the annals of space history and will likely never be forgotten. There are memorials on Earth such as the statue at Star City in Russia, and in honour of the brave dog some countries issued special stamps showing Laika's likeness. A quick online search produced images of Laika stamps of Romania, The Maldives, Poland, Hungary, Ascension Island, Bulgaria, Chad, Turks & Caicos, Mongolia and CCCP (Russia). Schoolchildren the world over have no doubt shed many tears upon learning the story of this sweet-natured special dog. I remember consoling my 7-year-old daughter when she learned of the story almost 30 years ago. One person was moved enough to dedicate this online memorial to Laika. If animals in space interest you, here's another story worth reading: Felicette the Cat: A 1963 Space Odyssey.

November 2014 Diary Dates

  • 01: The Moon passes 5° north of Neptune
  • 02: The Moon is at perigee (closest to Earth)
  • 03: Mercury passes 5° north of Spica (alpha Virginis)
  • 03: Southern Taurids (Halloween Fireballs) meteor shower peak
  • 04: The Moon passes 1.3° north of Uranus
  • 04: All four Galilean moons will be on one side of Jupiter
  • 06: Full Moon - the Beaver, Frosty, Trading or the Sassafras Moon
  • 06: The 25m asteroid 2014 UX57 will pass Earth beyond the orbit of the Moon
  • 12: The Rosetta spacecraft is expected to deploy its lander, Philae, which will hopefully attach itself to Comet Churyumov–Gerasimenko with the aid of two harpoons
  • 14: The Moon passes 5° south of Jupiter
  • 14: The Moon is at apogee (furthest from Earth)
  • 14: All four Galilean moons will be on one side of Jupiter
  • 17-18: Leonid meteor shower peak
  • 18: The 4.1km NEO asteroid 2004 JN13 will pass Earth beyond the orbit of the Moon
  • 18: The 3.2km asteroid 1998 SS49 will pass Earth beyond the orbit of the Moon
  • 22: The 1.3km asteroid 2005 UH3 will pass Earth beyond the orbit of the Moon
  • 22: New Moon
  • 25: All 4 Galilean moons will be on one side of Jupiter
  • 26: The Moon passes 7° north of Mars
  • 27: The Moon is at perigee
  • 29: The Moon passes 4° north of Neptune

  • Chat about your celestial observances at the H2G2 Astronomy Society. Comment on anything in this edition of Babe Among the Stars by starting a new conversation below.

Babe Among the Stars Archive

Galaxy Babe

27.10.14 Front Page

Back Issue Page

Bookmark on your Personal Space

Conversations About This Entry

There are no Conversations for this Entry



Infinite Improbability Drive

Infinite Improbability Drive

Read a random Edited Entry


h2g2 is created by h2g2's users, who are members of the public. The views expressed are theirs and unless specifically stated are not those of the Not Panicking Ltd. Unlike Edited Entries, Entries have not been checked by an Editor. If you consider any Entry to be in breach of the site's House Rules, please register a complaint. For any other comments, please visit the Feedback page.

Write an Entry

"The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy is a wholly remarkable book. It has been compiled and recompiled many times and under many different editorships. It contains contributions from countless numbers of travellers and researchers."

Write an entry
Read more