by: Aaron George Bailey
Sherwood, Arkansas USA
This Web Page was created on October 4, 2007



Unlike any other day before, today started out strange.  Within  the Assembly Hangar was a clean room where
she was fitted with space garments.   There seemed to be more people tending to her than usual, all were in white
lab suits with white caps, some she had never seen before.  Some of the workers made a fuss over her by repeatedly
petting her head and kissing her nose, and even praising her with baby-talk  These humans acted in a most peculiar
manner.  Going along with their game, Laika tilted her head and perked her ears in an amusing way as
the workers
gently placed her inside the capsule.  Cradled on a special four wheel cart,  the capsule was then rolled
out into the giant hallway where
the rocket was resting on a rail car.  Her capsule was hoisted up and
rotated ninety degrees before it was mounted on the rocket.  This odd move forced Laika to rest sideways
in her box.  Clearing the work area, Technicians did final safety checks and prepared to
walk along with
the new Sputnik as it moved to the launch pad.  An ALL CLEAR was given, huge Hangar doors rolled back
and a Diesel-Electric Locomotive revved, nudging the odd looking train backward.   In the darkness Laika
heard the clickedy-clack of
the Transporter Erector car as the rocket slowly rolled toward Pad #1.  The first
mile of her journey into space began as a train ride.  
Nearing the base of the pad, the Transporter Erector
slowly backed the last few inches until it reached a precise stopping point.   When stabilized with wheels
chocked, it used
hydraulic jacks to slowly upright the R-7.  Now Pad equipment took over as hold-down
arms and the tilting gantry moved in on Sputnik-2 and nestled it securely.  Returning Laika's box to a
normal upright position eased her stress.  At this point Technicians moved onto the gantry to inspect the
new  Sputnik.   At the uppermost platform they used a
small davit to raise the nose cone clear of the
capsule, providing access to the payload for final servicing.  Inside the tiny capsule darkness gave way to
a feeble shaft of light as the nose cone was lifted away.  The rays of light filled Laika with the hope of
seeing him once again.  
Through the small porthole she studied the workers, looking for her Master.

Bathe in a crossfire of floodlights, launch pad #1 towered above the flat terrain and could be seen for
miles.  Bleak, barren of trees, there is nothing to impede the winds that sweep across the Baikonur
The mighty R-7 seemed to shake slightly as it was teased by the wind gusts and it was cradled by
four massive hold down arms.  For rocket technicians the cold wind made working aloft a real challenge.  
A small walk around platform had been improvised for final servicing of the Sputnik 2 capsule.  Fighting the
wind at the top level of the rocket made even a simple task difficult.  Firstly, he had to weigh down his checklist with a
wrench, and then with both hands free, secure his position by kneeling down on
the narrow walkway. "Hello Little
Curly, would you like a drink of water," as he petted Laika on the head?  Repeatedly he filled his cupped hand with
water until she drank her fill.  He then loaded a  huge syringe with water and carefully inserted its needle through the

licking sponge(1A)" and topped off her small water container.  Only while oriented upright on the launch pad could
this simple water dispenser be serviced.
 As if to say “thank you”, Laika licked his hand before he withdrew his arm
from the capsule. With natural canine cunning, Laika sensed that something was different about this training session.
Perhaps it was the sad look in her Masters eyes, or the prolonged head rubbing coupled with final whispers of praise
before pad workers pushed her Master aside, "out of the way comrade," as they worked to move the small window  
hatch back in place.  Her Master wasn't ruffled by their treatment, he seemed detached from them and totally transfixed
by something else.  A big man in stature, his face was etched in weathered lines and forged hard looking by time.  A
saber scar across his cheek accented his appearance, as it was the ceremonial mark of a Doctor.  Master was a good
Communist and had fought in
The Great Patriotic War to rid the Motherland of the Nazi invaders (WWII).  Like
so many during that terrible time, he was caught up in events which he was powerless to change.  He cared for the
welfare of army horses that pulled heavy cannons through mud and snow.  Although he spent most of his time in the
firing zone giving first aid to wounded soldiers.  The things he must have seen, and the things he had to do, perhaps
that is why he seldom smiled.  But Laika knew the softest of hearts resided deep inside his rough exterior.  With their
eyes still locked on each other, Laika caught her last glimpse of him, as the technicians slid the window hatch onto the
stud bolts of the main hatch cover.  How strange,,,, her Master's eyes were wet looking, as he seemed to swallow hard
while quickly wiping a corner of his eye. As a street dog, Laika learned early, there are two types of humans, the mean
spirited uncaring types and the kind hearted types. She knew her Master was a good human.  Abandoned at a tender
age, Laika and her siblings survived by begging for bits of grilled sausage at a sidewalk stand. Some people would
share a bit of sausage while others would kick at them or slap their newspaper loudly across their hand to repulse
them. The sausages were grilled to perfection over a bed of pine cone embers and the aroma of the smoke lured the
dogs in an overpowering way.  It was the never ending quest for tasty sausages bits which would get Laika's brothers
and sisters netted one by one. Laika eluded the dog catchers net only to wonder into a box trap with a trip door.  The
trap was baited with, yes, a piece of grilled sausage.
-NOTE-see real Soviet photo NOT historically related to Laika.
Chapter #5