from November 3, 2009
On this day 52 years ago, Laika (Russian for “barker”) was launched into space aboard Sputnik 2, the second satellite ever sent into space by Humans. At the time, there was no way to return her to Earth, so the Soviets had stored some poisoned food aboard, which her automatic feeder would dispense after 10 days in orbit. But Laika died only a few hours after reaching orbit. The hastily-built ship’s thermal controls malfunctioned and she succumbed to high heat in the cockpit. The Soviets would gamble and succeed many times in the early space race. Laika was not so lucky. But she was the first living creature to venture beyond Earth. Spare a thought for this poor little pioneer.