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Author Topic: Laika, 3 November 1957  (Read 906 times)

ehbowen

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Laika, 3 November 1957
« on: November 01, 2017, 06:16:23 pm »
lit candle imageLaika


Sputnik 1, which was successfully launched and orbited in early October 1957, represented an engineering and technological triumph of the first magnitude for the USSR. Premier Nikita Khrushchev demanded that it be followed with an even greater space spectacular to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the USSR's November Revolution. This gave the engineers four weeks to design, plan, and carry out the mission.

While another, more complex, satellite which would eventually become Sputnik 3 was in the works, it could not be made ready in time for Khrushchev's deadline. So, for Sputnik 2, the chosen goal was to loft a live animal into orbit. A dog.

By this time the Soviets had already, without much fanfare, launched a dozen dogs on various sub-orbital missions. The animals were collected as strays from the streets of Moscow; it was presumed that they would be tolerant of extremes of heat and cold and privation. They were trained by being locked into tiny cages for weeks at a time and were fed a gelatinous mixture which would be their food in space. Of course, one small fact was seldom mentioned publicly although it was well-known among the technical team: At this early stage of space exploration, no provision for re-entry had or could be made. The trip would intentionally, from the beginning, be one-way.

Of the three animals trained for this mission, one stood out: A female Samoyed-mix that the scientists named Laika. She was chosen as the flight dog.  One scientist who worked with her, Dr. Vladimir Yazdovsky, called her "quiet and charming." Recognizing that she had so little time to live, he took her home to play with his children so that she might have at least a taste of life as a "normal" dog. Laika's last human contact was on October 31st, 1957. The technicians who bolted her into the capsule kissed her on the nose before they did so, knowing that she would not survive the flight.

For three days she waited in the nose of the rocket, not knowing or understanding what was going on. When Sputnik 2 was finally launched early in the morning of November 3rd, 1957, her heart rate skyrocketed. She was terrified. Her training had included centrifuge rides, but after those there had always been a trainer to calm her down. Now she was utterly alone.

The Soviet propaganda machine, crowing about this latest triumph in space, admitted that Laika would not return alive. They said that she would be euthanized by a last meal of poisoned food. Later, they said that she passed away painlessly when the capsule's oxygen ran out. They held to this story, at least publicly, for 45 years. It turns out that it was not the truth.

In the hurried rush to build the capsule and plan the mission, the life support system had not been adequately tested. Dimitri Malashenkov, one of the scientists behind the Sputnik 2 mission, admitted in 2002 that "It turned out that it was practically impossible to create a reliable temperature control system in such limited time constraints." A critical section of the spacecraft did not separate, rendering much of the temperature control system inoperable. The temperature in Laika's capsule soared to 40C, or 104 degrees Fahrenheit. Her heart rate remained elevated, indicating continuing stress.

On the fourth orbit of the Earth, Laika's suffering ended. No further life signs were received from the capsule. The capsule, including Laika's remains, would burn up and disintegrate upon re-entry into Earth's atmosphere five months later.



While the exact extent to which the divine realm is cognizant of Earth's animal kingdom is a subject of much theological debate, I do personally know this: The one time I am utterly convinced that I saw an angel from God in a dream, she was standing beside the dog our family lost to cancer when I was thirteen.

"Are not five sparrows sold for two copper coins? And not one of them is forgotten before God. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. Do not fear therefore; you are of more value than many sparrows [Luke 12:6-7]."
--------Eric H. Bowen
Where's the KABOOM? There was supposed to have been an Earth-shattering KABOOM!

RandallS

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Re: Laika, 3 November 1957
« Reply #1 on: November 04, 2017, 08:19:07 am »
Sputnik 1, which was successfully launched and orbited in early October 1957, represented an engineering and technological triumph of the first magnitude for the USSR. Premier Nikita Khrushchev demanded that it be followed with an even greater space spectacular to coincide with the 40th anniversary of the USSR's November Revolution. This gave the engineers four weeks to design, plan, and carry out the mission.

I've never been able to stand Khrushchev -- and this was typical of him. While animal experimentation isn't always avoidable (and was even less avoidable back then), this wasn't really an experiment -- this was grandstanding.
Randall
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ehbowen

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Re: Laika, 3 November 1957
« Reply #2 on: November 03, 2019, 07:36:30 pm »


lit candle imageLaika


Bumping this for the 52nd anniversary of Laika's tragic one-way flight.

Sent from my STV100-1 using Tapatalk

--------Eric H. Bowen
Where's the KABOOM? There was supposed to have been an Earth-shattering KABOOM!

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