Laika, launched November 3, 1957 in Sputnik-2 spacecraft, became the first living being in space and orbit Earth. The flight was a “one way ticket”, as there was no intention to return the animal to Earth, moreover – such technology did not exist those days. Laika lived several hours and died from overheating succeeding to survive 4 orbits (the plan was to keep the animal alive for around 7 days – Soviet media continued to report fair medical condition of the dog for the planned 7 days). The cause for the increased temperature laid in a faulty spacecraft design, but government commission did not believe and ordered to simulate the same conditions on Earth, killing another two dogs. Interestingly that the fact of launching the first living creature into space at first has been basically underestimated in USSR, but turned to be a huge sensation in West.
Belka and Strelka
Belka and Strelka were the first living creatures to orbit and successfully return to Earth. Launched on August 19, 1960 in a Spurnik-5 spacecraft (that actually was a second prototype of Vostok manned spaceship - Vostok 1K №2), the dogs completed 17 orbits and 25 hours in space. The main idea of the flight was to ensure living being survival in space and successful de-orbiting and landing. The most challenging was to train the animals to keep still in the narrow space for a long time. Some of the trainees remained in the capsule for 8 days. Meanwhile the couple of most successful dogs – Markiza and Albina became Belka and Strelka (the change was ordered by Marshall Nedelin, as he did not like their “western” style names). The flight was a huge success widely promoted in the media. The dogs became heroes, lived long lives and bred.
Chernushka, Zvezdochka & others
Chernushka and Zvezdochka made their flights in 4th and 5th spaceships (Vostok 3KA № 1 and Vostok 3KA № 2), March 9 and March 25, 1961. They were the most important milestones before Gagarin flight, testing the final Vostok spaceship prototype to a full success that enable to get a green light for a first manned flight – Vostok 3A № 3). Korolev decided to have 2 successful flights in a row using Vostok 3KA spaceship before the manned flight. From the previous five launches the only success was Sputnik-5 with Belka and Strelka. Mar 9, 1961 – full production Vostok 3KA №1 was launched. Spaceship carried dog Chernushka (Blacky) and human dummy called Ivan Ivanovich. The dummy was inhabited by guinea pigs and various bio-organisms. The capsule safely landed after one revolution near Kuibyshev.
Mar 25, 1961 – second production ship Vostok 3KA №2 – basically this was the general rehearsal before the manned flights. Same profile as the flight before – dog Zvezdochka (Tiny Star) with human dummy + guinea pigs and other creatures. Everything went as planned and the capsule safely landed near Izhevsk.
The flight of biological satellite Cosmos-110 with two dogs – Ugolek and Veterok (Charcoal and Breeze) was probably the most complex space animal experiment ever conducted. The program started 2 years before the launch that happened on February 22, 1966. The target was to test the influence of the long duration space flight on the living creature for the 22 days with all kinds of onboard testing and data collection. The dogs went through the extensive surgery for various sensors implantations and feeding catheters insertion. 30 dogs were prepared for the initial training, as they had to stay aboard in almost constant position without water, using only internal feeding system. Ugolek and Veterok landed on March 17, 1966. The dogs were in very poor condition and went through extensive rehabilitation process. Experiment was a success and paved the way to a first long duration flight of 18 days onboard Soyuz-9.