Space Goes to the Dogs … No, the Other Way Around

Fifty years ago today — August 19, 1960 — the USSR launched Sputnik-5 from the Baikonur Cosmodrome.

(Strelka, shown in a television image from Sputnik-5. Image from the National Space Science Data Center. The raster lines in the TV signal give the image an interesting quality.)

Sputnik-5 carried two dogs, “Strelka” and “Belka,” into orbit to test Russian systems intended for their manned space program.

Sputnik-5 and its canine crew spent one day in orbit, after which the spacecraft and dogs de-orbited and were successfully recovered. This marked the first time a “biologic payload” was brought back safely from orbit.

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