Remembering Laika – The First Traveller into Cosmos

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On Nov 3rd, 1957 Laika the space dog marked a symbolic impression in the quest of space exploration when it became one of the first animals to go onto space orbit. It was the early years of space exploration when both Russia and USA were battling it out to outwit each other to go beyond Earth’s orbit and thus to establish themselves as the supreme leaders in space flights. During those days returning back from a space flight was considered as an impossibility.

Laika was a stray dog from Moscow and she was selected among the three dogs to take the flight in Sputnik 2 which launched into the outer space on November 3rd 1957. Everybody knew that Laika was not going to come back yet it was considered as a better alternative than to send a human as scientists believed that dogs would have a better survival rate for such kind of missions. They specifically chose stray dogs from Moscow with the assumption that the dogs had already adapted to the cold and harsh conditions and would thus endure similar conditions in space.

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An Image of Laika During the Testing Phase of Sputnik 2

A heart-touching article written by Becky Ferreira gives us a glimpse of the bravery of this innocent dog which through his short journey gave mankind an inlet to the vast boundaries of space. Here is an excerpt of the article.

On this day in 1957, a stray mutt named Laika became the first animal ever to orbit the Earth. She was launched on Sputnik 2, a mission that reinforced the huge lead that the Soviet space program had over the Americans in the early years of the space race. Her historic voyage marked a major milestone for space exploration, and she has become an international symbol of triumph over impossible odds.

But there is a darker side to this optimistically heroic image we have thrust on the most famous of the canine cosmonauts. Mere hours after she boldly went where no dog had gone before, Laika made history for a second time by becoming the first animal to die in orbit.

For decades, Soviet officials lied about the time, cause, and manner of her death, claiming that she passed away painlessly several days after the launch. Some even claimed she hung on for a full week. But in 2002, Sputnik 2 scientist Dimitri Malashenkov put a near half-century of rumors to rest by admitting Laika died on her fourth circuit around the Earth, about five to seven hours after launch.

And her death was, unfortunately, far from painless.

Click Here for the Full Article

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A Postage Stamp Commemorating Laika was Released by Romania in 1959

In 1959, a Romanian postage stamp was released which had Laika along with a caption which read “Laika, first traveller into Cosmos”. A monument depicting a dog standing on top of a rocket stands near the military research facility in Russia. It  was inaugurated by the Russian officials on april 11, 2008in memory of Laika.

Many of the scientific breakthroughs that humanity has achieved is a result of animal testing and the competition in the space race too saw a humble stray dog become a scapegoat.

Animals have been considered for various tests in the medical fields as well before the drugs can be approved for human trials. Maybe the term “survival of the fittest” suits such acts very well. But is this fair to treat animals for the sake of achievements in science and technology? Can we approve such methods as ethical? Can betterment of your own group be a justifiable reason for the lesser treatment of another? Answer the Poll below.

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