November 3rd, 2007 - Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of Russian Space Dog Laika and Her Flight on Sputnik-2
On October 4th, 1957,  Russia shocked the World when it blasted Sputnik-1 into earth orbit as the first artificial satellite.  Bitter
Cold War rivals, American and Russia stood toe to toe, both armed with nuclear bombs and both locked in an ideological life or
death struggle.  Up until this time, America was thought to be the High-Tech leader of the world but the Russian Sputnik
demonstrated a powerful rocket and satellite capability which America didn't have.  With bruised pride, America felt outclassed
by a nation of peasants.  Fear spread throughout the USA, because the powerful Sputnik R-7 rocket could also hurl
A-bombs right into the heart of America.  Feeling helpless, Americans gazed up at Sputnik-(MAINLY THE CENTER CORE STAGE

ABOVE) as it boldly tumbled across the twilight sky, visible as a pulsating point of light to earthbound observers.  "Now the
Americans sleep under a Russian Moon", boasted Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev.  Exploiting the Russian lead, he wanted to
embarrass America further with his vision of a, bigger, more magnificent spaceship !  Khrushchev ordered his rocket
engineers to build Sputnik-2 in just three weeks, and this time, a living being should ride the rocket into orbit.  In early November
the special order was met as Khrushchev's cobbled together spaceship was ready for blast-off and a small dog named Laika
was ready to rocket into history on its fire and thunder.  Part of a group of research dogs, she was selected mainly for her calm
nature.  Specially trained, Laika was conditioned to vibration, noise, lengthy confinement and  restricted movement within small
capsules, and also, high-G centrifuge runs and airplane rides to familiarize her with the sensations of flight.  Being wired with
biomedical sensors and wearing space garments became a way of life for Laika.  She also learned to eat a food / water mix in
jelly form.  (ABOVE)_Cameras flashed as Laika posed for the media on Oct. 27th, and then, after some coaxing and to the
delight of radio listeners, she barked into a microphone
.  Later she was flown from the Moscow training center to the secret
Baikonur launch site.  On the morning of Oct. 31st  she was taken for a walk before being fitted with space gear.  Chained
within the tiny capsule for 65 hours, Laika waited as last minute problems kept Sputnik-2  grounded on the launch pad.  Finally,
on the morning of November 3rd, 1957, the countdown reached zero.  Laika barked at liftoff and her heartbeat raced to 3 times
normal as she rode Sputnik-2 into the unknown cosmos and became the first Earthling to orbit the planet.  Hastily built, her tiny
capsule was unable to handle the harsh conditions of space and she died of heat stress after surviving for only 5 to 7 hours.  In
truth, there never was a happy homecoming planned for Laika, because, in 1957 the Russians did not know how to return a
space capsule safely to earth.  Entombed inside her capsule, Laika rode the fury of the rocket one way to doom.  In retrospect,
her flight was a politically motivated stunt, less about science and more about beating the Americans.  Meanwhile, Soviet
Premier Nikita Khrushchev beamed with delight as Russia beat America once again by orbiting the first biological specimen.  
From street dog to space dog, Laika served her Russian Masters well.  In an effort to catch up, the Sputniks caused a reflex
response from American leadership as President Eisenhower created NASA, and ARPA which later became the WWW as we
know it today.  The early Space Age quickly evolved into a Space Race game of who was successfully first with the next
technical challenge of spaceflight.  Competition between Russia and America triggered a technological explosion which rained
back down to Earth for the practical benefit of all Mankind.   Always remember the little stray dog from the streets of Moscow,
her sacrifice helped lead Humanity into the future, and changed the World forever.
by: Russian Space Observer_ Aaron George Bailey
_ Sherwood, Arkansas