Technological advances and world space exploration must thank a dog. His services will never be able to respond to us. Likewise, our sins against him that we may never be able to atone for.
Yes, before cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin from the Soviet Union became the first human being sent into space, and astronaut Neil Armstrong from the United States became the first human to step on the moon, there was a dog named Laika who died for the fulfillment of humankind’s conquest of space.
After the success of Sputnik 1 (the first artificial satellite that was launched) in 1957, the Soviet Union wanted to continue its superiority immediately. Prime Minister Nikita Khrushchev also requested that a flight be carried out on November 7, 1957, or exactly the 40th anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution.
In short, as summarized by Smithsonianmag.com, the Soviet space team only had four weeks to prepare everything. Starting from the preparation, equipment, and everything is done in a hurry. In essence, their technology at that time was far from perfect.
At that time, it was not yet known whether humans could survive during launch and while in space. A dog is then used as experimental material. Laika was sacrificed for the ambitious mission of the Soviet Union, which at that time was in a cold war and competing in space affairs with the United States.
It is unclear what is the reason for choosing a dog. At the same time, the United States is researching the possibility of using apes for the same thing. Some mutt that roams the streets of Moscow was chosen as the first animal candidates to orbit the earth. After getting a lot of training, Laika was finally chosen.
Three days before D-day, Laika was placed in a small Sputnik 2 capsule that was no bigger than a washing machine. From the beginning, he was prepared not to return to earth, aka undergoing a suicide mission. Laika is expected to die peacefully due to running out of oxygen.
In Sputnik 2, Laika is tied with a rope so that it doesn’t move around much. The narrowness of the room also made him unable to turn his body back. Laika was given food for several days, including those that had been poisoned so that she could die without suffering too much. His death is just waiting for the count of hours.
The rocket also glides, with g-force (the compressive force of gravity on the outside of the body when facing high speed) five times more powerful than normal gravity levels. The noise and pressure at launch also stressed him and scared him. His heart rate and breathing rate increased dramatically.
Laika managed to orbit and survived around the earth for 103 minutes. But the heat shield failed to function, and eventually, he died of heat. The Soviet Union reportedly had a long time covering up this story, saying that Laika died peacefully and had lived for several days orbiting the earth.
Laika’s figure as the first animal to fly into space, and her heartbreaking story of animal lovers is now contained in a variety of works. Starting from video animation, poetry, and children’s books, to songs and stamps. Laika is also enshrined in the form of a memorial statue.
At a military facility in Moscow, Russia, there was the figure of Laika standing on a rocket. Rest in peace, Laika. We will not forget you.