Spare a thought for Laika

There’s a lot of talk about space at the moment; with the new Star Wars film soon out and Tim Peake’s recent blast off. Should the latter have missed your radar (and that would have been difficult)  the first British man in space launched from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, the same place where the first man in space Yuri Gagarin launched from in 1961. It’s also no coincidence that in September Valentina Tereshkova, the first woman in space, opened the exhibition at the Science museum: Cosmonauts – Birth of the Space Age, which includes Vostok 6 and has been called ‘the most significant collection of Russian space craft and artifacts ever shown in the U.K.’

However in this catalogue of astronomical ‘firsts’ (with the exception of the Star Wars film which I believe is the seventh in the series) there is one name that has been conspicuous by it’s absence. Laika, described as a husky/terrier type mongrel, blasted off in November 1957 (to celebrate the 40th anniversary of the Bolshevik revolution) on board Sputnik 2. Laika had  been a stray found on the streets of Moscow before being chosen for the mission, her contribution to galactic exploration is certainly confused and ultimately a very sad one. So at this time of rocket fuelled cosmic celebration lets spare a thought for the victims of progress, including Laika – the first dog in space!

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