by: Aaron George Bailey
Sherwood, Arkansas USA
This Web Page was created on October 4, 2007


Alas, poor Laika was like the sacrificial lamb of the Space Age, a flesh and blood offering, to help the Soviet
Union gain international prestige and political posturing during the height of the Cold War.  Almost three
years later in a well planned test flight,
fellow canines Belka and Strelka were blasted into orbit and  
returned safely to Earth in a prototype of the Vostok capsule which was being developed for manned
 Given a sporting chance, Laika's canine buddies successfully test qualified two critical systems, the
re-entry capsule and its parachute system.   Although a number of dogs died due to accidents during the
Vostok development phase.  A booster blew up on an earlier attempt, killing two dogs,
(12) and a later
canine crew died when their Vostok capsule was deliberately exploded to keep it from landing way off
target and possibly being found and examined by Western intelligence.  Named Sputnik 6, its retro burn
was too short and its landing capsule didn't immediately de-orbit into the designated recovery zone but
continued to limp along in low orbit before returning several hours later.
(13)   A mixed success rate, in a
series of such test flights involving dog passengers, helped to pave the way for the first human space
flight, which was piloted by Yuri Gagarin on April 12, 1961.  Later modified versions of this Vostok capsule
were equipped with a spy camera and flown under the cover name of Kosmos.  These were Spy-in-the-Sky
satellites which were operated in an unmanned automatic mode and used to return film to earth.  Modified
Vostok craft with the Kosmos cover name were also used for miscellaneous science missions as well.  
Development of the flexible Vostok return system was an ongoing robust engineering effort whereas
Sputnik 2 was a dead end, one time only design that used off the self hardware.  This further reinforces the
notion that it was a conjured up on short notice, type of mission.  
On November 10th shortwave signals
from Sputnik 2 ceased when its chemical batteries were depleted.  With the lifeless body of the first space
traveler, Sputnik 2 continued to orbit earth for a total of 162 days, some 2570 orbits.   
The natural decay of
its orbit was slowly acted upon by atmospheric drag until the evening of April 14, 1958.(2)  At about 0150
GMT-(April 15 GMT), Sputnik 2 was once again embraced by gravity and reclaimed by mother earth as it was
destroyed by frictional heating over the Caribbean Sea.  Laika’s star, that was Sputnik-2, made its final
impression as a flaming meteor, spiraling in its final moments, as reported by one witness.  Never again
would the Soviet Union send a dog into orbit without a recovery capsule, although a number of dogs died
due to accidents.  On November 3rd 1997, exactly 40 years after Laika's flight, a small plaque
commemorating her achievement was unveiled at the Moscow research center where she was trained.  In
retrospect, Sputnik 2 was premature and somewhat of a Cold War stunt but it proved that manned space
flight was possible, and it also proved that manned flights would be dangerous.  
Sputnik 1&2 were
watershed events. They captured the imagination of humankind and sent shock waves through the
American psyche which ignited the competition of the Space Race.  A little over a decade later America
won the race when Apollo 11 astronauts Armstrong and Aldrin walked on the moon. Technological
competition is the father of innovation, so perhaps Laika's sacrifice wasn't in vain, it actually helped
catapult us into
a new age, of microchips, PCs, improved weather prediction and telecommunications, new
medical devices, and other aerospace related spin-offs.  
The Sputnik flights were shocking and generated
a reflex response from America.
 In a move to counter Soviet space advances U.S. President Eisenhower
created NASA in 1958 and the Sputniks also compelled the United States to form ARPA (The Advanced
Research Projects Agency) within the Department of Defense (DOD).  Early on the main goal of ARPA was to
link DOD computers for greater information sharing.  It later evolved into networking with university
computers, before finally going public in 1992 as the World Wide Web as we know it today.  So this Internet
Web Page is a fitting way to pay tribute to Laika since her flight helped instigate the American backlash that
was the driving force behind the creation of ARPA, which later became the WWW.  Indeed, Laika and the
Sputniks were like a cattalos which triggered a technological explosion.  
Only in the time of a shooting war,
such as W.W.II with its dreadful cost in lives and suffering and waste, has technology made such giant
leaps forward.  And now my friend, you know the story of the Sputnik-2 dog.  Mortar mixed with blood,
sweat and tears paves the road to manned flight, through the history of aviation and into the new frontier
of space it runs, as brave Cosmonauts and Astronauts will later prove. But always remember
Laika, the
Cosmo-dog who soared across the ancient constellations, where no earthling had gone before.  The little
stray dog, from the streets of Moscow, who helped lead humanity into the future.  She too, helped pave
the way into the Space Age. *



* This web site is dedicated to you, a dog  from my boyhood. You filled me with the wonder of a new age, and
then you tugged at me over distance and time.  Now, your story has been told.
Aaron George Bailey ----- contact me at email-  Laika-on-Sputnik-2@swbell.net
Sherwood, ARkansas  USA 72120
Soviet Space History Enthusiast
Aviation and Space Enthusiast
Radio / Electronics Enthusiast - SWL -
Ham operator - WA5HRC - QRP CW
and Dog Lover - See my dog Chipper
The Dog is one of God's most divine creatures.  In the grand scheme of things, if Angels were created to
serve and glorify God, then dogs must have been created to serve and glorify man.  Truly mans best
friend, they give unconditional love and are not judgmental nor are they capable of other unflattering
human traits like betrayal, even when their master neglects, abuses, or starves them.  To the noble
canine, and to the unfortunate members of the canine species, the sick, weak, deserted, hurt, lost,
frightened, unwanted, abused, starving, homeless, and especially to those who are exploited in an
irresponsible manner, I also dedicate this web site.