The above is a postcard from Brussels
World Fair 1958, showing a model of the
Sputnik-2 nose cone.  Note - Laika's tiny
pressurized capsule (see round window)
was designed to operate for one week.
The powerful R-7 rocket shown configured for
the Sputnik-2 mission.  Designed as a military
rocket, capable of hurling a nuclear bomb
worldwide, the R-7 proved to be a good satellite
launcher.  Upgraded versions are still used today.

Commemorating the 50th Anniversary of "The Birth of the Space Age"

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 rocket could hurl A-bombs right into the
heart of America.  Feeling helpless, Americans gazed up at Sputnik gliding across the twilight sky.  "Now
the Americans sleep under a Russian moon", boasted
leader Nikita Khrushchev.  Exploiting the Russian
lead, he wanted to embarrass America further with his vision of a 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 she barked into a microphone, much
to the delight of Radio listeners.  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
(3G)  Chained within the tiny capsule for 65 hours, Laika waited as last minute problems kept
Sputnik-2 grounded on the launch pad.
(5)  Finally, on the morning of November 3rd, 1957, the countdown
reached zero.  Laika barked at liftoff 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 into doom.  In
retrospect, her fight was a politically motivated stunt, less about science and more about beating the
Americans.  Meanwhile, 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.  The Sputniks caused a reflex response from America 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 game of who was first.  
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  
small stray dog from the streets of Moscow, her sacrifice helped lead Humanity into the future, and
changed the World forever.
by: Aaron George Bailey - Sherwood, Arkansas
Laika was fitted with biomedical sensors and
then a
full body harness to help protect her
hookups.  Her capsule is in the background.
The Institute of Aviation and Space
Medicine in Moscow, in late October 1957
Laika poses inside her space box.
At Baikonur Cosmodrome and within the huge Horizontal Assembly Hall, the Sputnik-2
payload is seen here attached to the nose of the R-7 rocket.  The R-7 is resting on a
special rail car and Laika is sealed inside her capsule at this point.  Note the small
window, her only source of light.   During this phase of the preparations, Laika had to lay
on her side until
the rocket was rolled out to pad #1 and uprighted.  The Sputnik-1 backup
sphere, minus its 4 rod antennas, is seen to the left of Laika's capsule.  It contained the
20.005Mhz and 40.002Mhz transmitters similar to the on-orbit Sputnik. The 4 antennas
were relocated to the right of Laika's capsule and one can barely be seen in the upper
right corner of the photo.  The UV experiment package is seen to the left of the sphere.
With a good nature and a smile in her eyes, here is another pre-flight photo of Laika.  
The shell above her head is
made of cork and acted like an insulating roof liner that
was slid inside the aluminum capsule before the end hatch was bolted on.