In Honor of Laika, Canine Cosmonaut (1954? - November 3, 1957)

On November 3rd, 1957 the USSR launched Sputnik2 with a mixed-breed street dog named Laika on board. She was  selected for her intelligence and docility. Laika would have made a great pet but that wasn’t her fate. The Soviet scientists wanted to prove that a dog, and eventually a human being, could survive in space. Sputnik 2 was equipped with life support systems and water for ten days. 

Unfortunately, the spacecraft was not designed for recovery and it soon became clear to the world that Laika was making a one-way trip. The Russian National Air and Space Museum holds declassified printouts showing Laika’s respiration during the flight. She survived take off and lasted about 103 minutes in space, enough time to orbit the Earth twice, at most.  It was anticipated that she would survive for a few days, eventually dying of a lack of oxygen but the failing heat shields hastened her demise.

The mission yielded very little scientific information. Perhaps the most meaningful legacy of Sputnik 2 can be summed up in this quote from one of the Soviet scientists.

" The more time passes the more I'm sorry... We shouldn't have done it. We did not learn enough from the mission to justify the death of the dog."

Peace & Love,

Marilyn Cvitanic


Prints of LAIKA  are available at: