If you’re looking to give your dog a famous astronaut’s name, you’re probably an appreciator of space exploration or at least of those brave enough to be cast off into the nearly-unknown. Either that or your dog is a total space cadet and you want to give them a name suitable to their spacey demeanor. Either way, giving them a famous astronaut’s name is a great way to honor those who have risked their lives for the sake of science and exploration and in turn, a great way to give your dog a name that stands out, and with any luck, also matches their personality.
Famous Astronaut Dog Names in Pop Culture
In August of 1960, two dogs the size of Beagles did something that no humans had ever done before — they entered space, and better yet, returned home safely. Unfortunately, their predecessor, Laika, also dubbed Muttnik, the first dog in orbit, did not fare so well after being launched with Russia’s Sputnik in 1957 but the trio still hold historic relevance and for good reason.
The importance of both flights was never under-appreciated. Although a senior Soviet scientist later admitted regretting sending Laika based on the fact that they were only able to garner limited information from her flight, the trio primed the Space Race for a new era, one that would see numerous other animals join the effort with much more pertinent results, and more importantly, truly set the basis for the impending reality of human space flight — less than a year later, because of the results of Belka, Strelka, and the Sputnik 5 that they flew in, the Russians sent the first man into space.
Even though the two dogs returned home safe, there was undoubtedly uncertainty that they would do so even during the flight. Equipped with TV transmissions, Russian space doctors were able to watch and evaluate the pair while in flight — and the early results did not look promising. Between the dogs adjusting to zero gravity and the technology at the time, it seemed as if the dogs were barely moving through most of the trip, leading onlookers to believe that the dogs had not survived the launch. During the fourth orbit, however, Belka finally shuddered and then proceeded to vomit, shaking the dogs out of what seemed to be an intense trance brought on by the conditions. For the remainder of the flight, they were much more active and alert, giving doctors and scientists alike hope that their trip would be truly revolutionary.
Upon their return, the pair became folk heroes, inspiring cartoons, music and films. Strelka even went on to have puppies, one of which, named Pushinka, was given to Jacqueline Kennedy and had a litter of her own, carrying on her space-dog bloodline even further, the pups of which were eventually given away. Both dogs were preserved after their deaths and are on display in Moscow’s Museum of Cosmonauts.
But Belka and Strelka weren’t even the last dog’s into space before humans were brave and knowledgeable enough to follow suit. Dogs Pchyolka and Mushka also spent a day in space just a few months later in December. Chernushka did the same in early March, closely followed by Zvyozdochka, who made one orbit on March 25, 1961, shortly before Yuri Gagarin’s historic first flight on April 12.
Above all else, Belka and Strelka set a significant precedent, even if they weren’t willing volunteers, and took the dream of space flight and made it reality.
Famous Astronaut Dog Name Considerations
Compared to other famous people you can name your dog after, being clever with a famous astronaut’s name is considerably more difficult given the limited number of those who have actually traveled into space, let alone have enough physical or personal presence to give you something to work with. Unlike poets, actors, and comedians, few had exceptionally distinct looks and most of their personalities were publicly defined by short interviews, leaving little to work with unless you feel like doing a considerable amount of research.
So what’s left? Well, using a name to match your dog in some other facet while also tying it into the astronaut theme may work. For instance, if you dog loves to dig and explore, naming them Digger after Duane “Digger” Carey would be appropriate and allows you to play the name on multiple levels. For the same reasons, giving your water-loving explorer the name Fischer, after Jack Fischer, is just as appropriate.
But of course there are numerous other ways you can go about it, some as simple as picking your favorite astronaut or the one you remember seeing on TV as a kid. If you can’t find any ties between your dog and one of the astronauts but still love the idea, get creative, name your spacey Blue Heeler, Bluford, after Guion Bluford, name the starry-eyed dog you got on Valentine’s Day, Valentina, or your exploratory stick-fetcher Carpenter. There are no wrong answers and there’s nothing wrong with exploring some new territory in the process.