Postcard of Laika the Soviet space dog
Text on postcard reads: “International Geophysical Year 1957–1958” (© FUEL Publishing)
Laika (1954-1957) was a Soviet space dog. Laika is derived from a Russian word meaning mixed breed (like a husky). A stray dog from Moscow, Laika became the first animal to orbit the Earth when she was launched aboard the Soviet space craft Sputnik 2 in 1957. Laika died within hours of takeoff. The experiment aimed to prove that a living passenger could survive being launched into orbit and endure micro-gravity, paving the way for human spaceflight and providing scientists with some of the first data on how living organisms react to spaceflight environments.