Russian Dog Names in Pop Culture
Laika ( means Barker) became the first dog in orbit, on the vehicle the Sputnik 2 on November 3rd 1957. She was also known as Zhuchka (the Little Bug) as well as the American's name for her which was 'Muttnik'. This name was a play on the word Sputnik. Sadly, she died during five to seven hours into the flight, mainly from stress and overheating. The real cause of her death was not revealed at first in fear of public opinion regarding the dog's demise. They soon followed that test with another in August 1960 with two dogs named Belka and Strelka. They spent a day in space aboard Sputnik 5, and returned to earth no worse for wear. Strelka went onto have six puppies with a dog named Pushok who participated in many ground trials but never made it into space. These dogs were true heroes; willing to do anything for their beloved masters, even if that involved intense training and some weird experiences like being in orbit. I wonder how weightlessness affected these dogs.
Testing with dogs continued in the early 1960's until Veterok (Light Breeze ) and Ugolyok (Coal) were launched into space on board Cosmos 110 in February 1966. They spent a record breaking 22 days in orbit before landing on March 16th. This spaceflight was not beaten by humans until June 1971 when the Soyuz 11 went into orbit. Their amazing record still stands today as the longest space flight by dogs on record.
The dog remains one of the most loyal, most trainable, most enduring characters that the human race has ever been privileged to know. There were many other dogs involved in the space program, either on ground trials or in the early trips to orbit. They were often accompanied by mice, a guinea pig or two, and even a rabbit. Their part in early space travel has been tremendous and while some paid the ultimate price and died, they were very precious to the program. We can only salute these dogs for the true hero's that they were.