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Back in the Day: Soviets send a dog to space

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Back in the Day: Soviets send a dog to space


November 3, 1957. A three-year-old stray dog named Laika (translated as ‘Barker’ in Russian) becomes the first mammal to be sent into orbit aboard the Soviet rocket Sputnik 2. After the success of Sputnik 1, the USSR wanted to know if humans could survive a space launch and conditions in orbit. Laika was trained to live in confined spaces and to eat a special gel and was put in a centrifuge that simulated the acceleration required for a launch. The Soviet leadership initially reported Laika survived until the sixth day of her space flight but it later emerged she died around six or seven hours after lift-off, probably from overheating due to a system failure. Nonetheless, the mission proved that mammals could survive being sent into orbit, thus paving the way for human space flight. A statue of Laika was erected in Moscow’s Star City cosmonaut training centre in 2008.

Also on November 3: The Times of India newspaper is founded (1838); Panama gains independence from Colombia (1903); Bill Clinton is elected as the 42nd US president (1992).

Born on November 3: Vincenzo Bellini (1803), Andre Malraux (1901), Charles Bronson (1921), John Barry (1933), Lulu (1948), Roseanne Barr (1952), Dolph Lundgren (1957), Robert Miles (1969).

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