December 3, 2022

The Foreign Residents in the TRNC – TFR

The Story of the Dog “Laika”

by Ralph Kratzer

P1000043Very often I am asked why my dog´s name is “Laika”……..

I’ll tell you the story:

I got Laika in December 2004, shortly after I moved to Northern Cyprus, from a Russian family in Karakum. On the way home with the puppy, my wife and I puzzled about what to name the dog. As by its origin it was sort of a “Russian” dog and I have had a passion for space flight since my childhood, so I suggested to call her Laika which my wife finally accepted.

But what has Laika to do with space? Who of you remembers?

A dog named Laika was the first living being in space.

sputnik2On 3rd November 1957 the dog Laika came on board of the Russian satellite “Sputnik II” as the first living thing on a astronautical flight and lived in space for several days in a state of weightlessness.

Unfortunately, no technical device was available on board, which would have enabled the satellite and thus the dog to return to Earth.

LaikaThe former fear of the world’s population that Russia could use the new technology to threaten the Western world with atomic war, was surpassed by the worldwide concern about the fate of the dog! The most strong responses in those days came from animal friends in England. The BBC news program gave the first detailed news about the satellite and the dog and it was not yet over, as the phones of the BBC were already overloaded by calls of outraged viewers! Huge headlines in the English and German newspapers daily reported on the current condition of the space dog.

The Russian scientists who had not expected so much interest throughout the world and  had given the dog just a number instead of a name, were now forced to quickly find a name for the animal to present it to the press ….

Laika_in_sputnikAfter some first confusions over the name of the dog, Laika was the name mentioned finally in an official press release the news agency TASS provided to the world. A spokesman for the Soviet Embassy in Germany explained that in the north of Russia virtually every dog would have this name because it was also the name of a widespread Russian dog breed.

The pre-planned death of Laika in space caused a worldwide storm of protest.

On 10th November 1957 the official news of Laika’s death came from Moscow.

Laika_2It was not published what the dog ultimately died of. The most likely explanation was that there were no longer oxygen supplies on board  …

Due to the worldwide outrage the Soviets started to develop return systems in their satellites for future space missions like this.

After 2370 orbits along with the dead dog, the satellite burned out on 14th April 1958 over Brazil and the Atlantic.

belka_strelkaIn the summer of 1960, the Russian dogs Belka and Strelka were launched into space and were – after 18 orbits – the first living beings coming back safely from space!

By the way, my second dog, who sadly died, had the name “Sputnik” …..

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