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60 years on - Laika the dog in space

In 1957 the space race was on between the Soviet Union and the US, but it was the Russians who managed to send the first living thing into orbit

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60 years on - Laika the dog in space

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‘Please forgive us’ said Russian biologist Adilya Kotovskaya, as she wept and stroked Laika the dog before sending her off into space.

The little street dog could never have known the importance of what she was about to do. 60 years ago, she was to become the first living thing ever to orbit the earth.

Sadly it was only ever to be a one-way trip, with Laika surviving just a few hours and travelling around the world 9 times before a failure in the Soviet spacecraft meant she overheated and died.

Laika was found on the streets like all of the dogs in the space programme. Bitches were apparently always chosen, as they didn’t need to lift their leg to urinate, thus needing less room in the spacecraft.

Laika’s martyrdom hasn’t been forgotten, her sacrifice paving the way for manned space flight.