After several hours of tracking, the orbit of Sputnik 2 moved out of radio range of the Soviet Union, the launch team,
many of them now serving as flight controllers, assembled briefly to celebrate their great accomplishment.  
received a congratulatory phone call from Premier Khrushchev, vodka flowed and toasts were made, there seemed to
be a common consensus,
Sputnik 2 was perhaps a more splendid achievement then Sputnik 1, because of its
speedy preparation and launch.
 Talk moved to future plans, "Comrade, while the Americans are watching, lets hit
the moon with one of our rockets and maybe another rocket could photograph the backside of the moon," "BRAVO,.
BRAVO" a toast was made to the future of Soviet space flight.  After a few hours of rest the Baikonur flight controllers
prepared for their early morning watch when the orbit of Sputnik 2 would once again bring it over Soviet territory.  They
manned their positions, warmed up
the short-wave receivers and tweaked dial settings with a crystal calibrator.  There
was concern over
telemetric data which suggested that Laika's cabin temperature was on a steady increase.  
Sensors indicated Laika was barking and trying to move about, apparently she was frightened and agitated

by the deteriorating conditions.  
On orbit three her biomedical data was garbled and on orbit four it had
stopped. (2)  It was feared that the increased temperature would evaporate away Laika's water and her capsule would
literally become a pressure cooker.  Hopefully, the high temperature was just a glitch in the telemetry.  With guarded
hopes they would try again.  Starting early,
controllers listened out on the short-wave frequency of 20.005
megacycles which wasn't  line-of-sight limited.
Perhaps with favorable atmospherics, they could intercept some
long distance telemetry and learn more about spacecraft conditions.  Privately the radio operator felt that long distance
reception was a remote chance at best since typically the 15 meter band was dead during the wee hours of the
The Sputnik 2 mission was planned to last seven days.(2)  But this was just the end of day one and the
environmental control system of Laika's capsule appeared to be overwhelmed by the harsh conditions of space.  At this
rate the life support system could not cope with the seven day mission.  
Laika's capsule was similar to those used
short duration high altitude research flights which the Soviet Union carried out, beginning in the early
fifties, using a small R-2A rocket, which was a modified German V-2.  
These were straight up (70 km) and
down missions with the dog passenger being parachuted to a soft landing.  Laika's backup, Albina, made
two such flights.
 Meanwhile in mission control, the radio operator slowly rocked a tuning knob plus and minus 20.005
megacycles.  He strained against the background noise, listening for Sputnik 2's weak signal.  Using split headphones
enabled him to monitor two radio channels at once.  The right earpiece was wired to the receiver which was tuned for
Sputnik 2, while the receiver hooked to the left earpiece was tuned to a makeshift tracking network.  Scientific institutes
scattered throughout Soviet territory plus ships at sea were hastily assembled to support this flight.  Using
the reliability
of Morse Code communications, they were connected together by a common radio net, giving them a means to
exchange radio observations and visual plots of orbital position.  
From initial tracking scientists learned that
Sputnik 2 was circling earth every 103.7 minutes.  
Inclined 65.33 degrees from the equator, its orbital path
remained fixed in space, the earth rotated on its axis within this orbit, making
Sputnik 2 pass over most of
the populated earth in a given twenty four hour period.  With regard to elevation, it traveled through a
complex highly elliptical orbit,
with a high point (Apogee 1660 kilometers / 1031.52 miles) over the southern
hemisphere, and
the closest approach to earth (Perigee 212 kilometers / 131.73 miles) being over the
Northern hemisphere, where
it was most visible to the naked eye.  

A huge computer occupied most of the control room, its blinking panel lights danced in binary rhythm as it crunched
numbers, working toward a solution which would predict orbital position relative to time.  Calculating future satellite
positions was challenging for this machine and it could barely stay ahead of real time events.  Programmers used a
special typewriter to perforate cards with updated orbital plots which came in from the visual and radar observations.  
Punched cards were then fed into a reader which communicated instructions to the computer.  It was a punch card
input and teletype output, type of operation.  Needless to say, its appetite for punch cards produced thousands of tiny
card punch-outs.  The pesky little squares had a life of their own and seemed to escape the collection tray, peppering
the floor and sticking to uniforms and boots.  This colossal electronic brain could have graced a sci-fi movie set.  It used
vacuum tubes and electromechanical relays for switches and a complex plug board for setup.  It was a hot and noisy
beast, fans cooled its 5000 tubes, with radiating heat, flashing lights, and clattering relays, you could feel this machine
working its task, much like an old steam locomotive, puffing, sweating condensation, and belching steam, as it toiled to
pull its load.  Vacuum tubes made up the heart of this computer and most of the time it was shutdown for servicing as it
frequently burned out tubes, making the on duty technician little more than a glorified tube changer.  His shirt was
sweat soaked and his nerves seemed frayed as he constantly moved back and forth through his work station, most of
the time with a service cart in tow.  All the while he eyed the machine in a challenging way, as if to say, "What are you
going to do next"?  Its maze of logic circuitry earned a reputation for having a fickle nature, prompting one programmer
to name it "Tanya", an unflattering title, referring to his ex-girlfriend.  Tanya worked her spell as the stifling heat from
her circuits began to fill the control room.  The buildup of unbearable heat, made Master think about Laika and what
her cabin conditions must be like, as he went around the room opening windows to let in the cold morning air.  

Grabbing his headset the radioman slowly leaned toward his radio receiver as if this would somehow improve the clarity
of what he was focused on.  Suddenly background hum filled headphones, hesitating, with his intercom mic keyed 'ON',
the radio operator called out "mark,
AOS" (Acquisition- Of- Signal) over the communication circuit!  At last, faint
incoming beeps were heard, Sputnik 2 was still functioning, and this sparked a fury of activity within the control room.
The radioman started a stop watch and touched up the signal with a fine tuning control.  Then he grabbed his
telegraph key and alerted the tracking net by tapping out "VVV
ZZZ HF AOS BAIKONUR" in Morse code.  Caught off
guard, the real time AOS for the 20.005 MHz shortwave beacon was five minutes ahead of the computers calculated
line-of-sight AOS.  The Space Age was in its infancy and electronic contact with a spacecraft was exciting for the
scientists, like being armchair explorers from afar, through the magic of electronics they could use radio telemetry to
study satellite operations from a distance.  The Doppler shifted signal of Sputnik 2 grew stronger with time and soon its
audio was switched to a control room speaker, unfortunately, the interference from a time tick signal could also be
heard.  It was
the powerful U.S. station WWV, transmitting nearby on 20 megacycles, the fluid nature of the
ionosphere created a temporary reflecting path for its signal, allowing it to skip around the curvature of the earth, and
from half a world away, rain down on Baikonur.  The radio operator quickly switched in a crystal filter which enhanced
the sputnik signal and helped null out the unwanted time service broadcast.  Then he switched the radio receiver to a
loop antenna which was rotated for further rejection of WWV.  Nodding his head, the Flight Director was pleased with
signal quality and ordered the tape recorder to fast speed while he simultaneously logged the AOS time.  
The beeping
rate of signal was roughly three tenths of a second.
(7)   A visual representation of the signal pulsed across the
green screen of an oscilloscope.  Laika's Master worked to scale out the beeps, as he was hoping to extract a reading
on cabin temperature.  Initially he was shocked, if telemetry was correct; her cabin was like an oven.  He quickly
glanced at another screen,,was it an intermittent signal,, or a failing heartbeat on his monitor, or perhaps,,, he was just
seeing random noise hits, and then he realized that Laika must be in the last stage of heat exhaustion or worse!  
Feeling so helpless, "Don't let her suffer anymore", he seemed to pray in a whisper.   Reflecting briefly, "How did I let
myself get involved with this", he thought?  He ripped off his headset and muttered a few words and no one dare look
into his fiery eyes.  Privately, as an insider, he had always felt this mission was less about science and more about
beating the Americans.  Sputnik 1 was such a marvelous achievement and represented the very finest part of the
human endeavor but the whole scheme of this new, dog in a sputnik, was rushed and poorly thought out.  In part, this
mission was riding on the prestige and Cold War hysteria of Sputnik 1, judged on its own merit, it was untimely in
conception.  The operational demands of a round trip mission exceed the available technology, so who do they hope to
fool with this gimmick flight?  It reminded him of his boyhood, when Papa took him to the Moscow Circus.  Even now, he
could vividly recall seeing a man shot from a giant cannon and landing in a net some hundred meters away.  The
sensationalism of that particular act always stuck with him.  To him, Sputnik 2 was much the same, just put a dog inside
a barrel and shoot him into orbit, let the Americans watch it glide across their airspace, publicly release some grainy
images of the dog, cloak mission capabilities and resulting biological data in secrecy, and finally, ballyhoo the whole
thing as a great accomplishment.  If only given a little time, his colleagues, under the leadership of Korolev, were
capable of a more impressive return to earth mission and they would not be forever tainted, by this politically motivated
stunt, which "shoots up a dog in a barrel".  Russia was a huge land mass with long borders, having been invaded many
times through history.  The most recent
WWII invasion was perpetrated by Nazi Germany, resulting in a Russian
death toll of twenty five million.  Mother Russia was still reeling from the brutality of that aggression.  Space
surveillance satellites were desperately needed for the security of the Motherland. Some means was needed to keep
an eye on the
NATO puppets of America and to guard against the staging of another invading army along the border.
High flying American U-2 spy planes were boldly and routinely penetrating the Soviet Union, just recently
they flew over the R-7 pad.  Already poor Soviet/American relations were further aggravated by this.  It was
intimating, an insult to our defense forces since our newest
Mig fighters could not even reach them to
shoot them down.
The Americans must be laughing at us, looking down on us as a backward nation of peasants.  But
right now the USSR held the high ground of space with its unique satellite capability. Why not give the technologically
conceded Americans a dose of their own medicine and let them helplessly gawk up at our spy satellites passing over
their country, then who would have a laugh?  The speedy development of a return capsule was essential for the
success of such a spy satellite, since exposed film would have to be brought back for analysis. Yes, they should have
bypassed Sputnik 2 and focused their time and energy on the more practical goal, like that of
a return to earth
capsule.  A return capsule was necessary for any serious ongoing space research, manned or unmanned. Of course,
an upper stage for the R-7 would also be needed to help loft the extra mass.  Modified versions of these capsules could
then be used for animal tests and later manned flights.  Hardware developmental kinks could be worked out early on by
flying an unmanned series of spy craft first, advancing the experience curve over time, and making later animal flights
more successful and manned flights safer.  If biological flights proved to be impractical, then they would still have an
operating surveillance platform in place with enough flexibility to be modified for various unmanned science missions
and the loss in rubles would be minimal.  Anyway, he was a Medical Doctor, not an engineer or politician and this was
his gut feeling about it all,
but orders were orders and Premier Khrushchev just had to show up the
Americans, embarrass them by being first with a biological flight, and right now.  Nikita Khrushchev was a self
proclaimed model of Communism.  The noble sounding principles of Communism made for good parlor talk and flowery
speeches. But Nikita acted more like a Capitalist with a lifestyle of materialism and over indulgence, having a dacha in
the country, frequent globe trotting tours, wearing tailor-made Western suits and stuffing his face with caviar and
roasted goose while many comrades went around in rags and didn't have a piece of bread to eat.  Was Premier
Khrushchev really a Communist at heart or just another goat-headed bureaucrat who had rolled in the foulness of
opportunism?  Yes, goat-headed I think, Communist principles were good enough for the workers but not for the party
elite.  To the Devil with Khrushchev, let him join Hitler and Stalin in hell!  He should resign from politics and become a
wrestler, or maybe a clown for the Moscow Circus.  These occupations would best fit his personality! Within the Soviet
system it was dangerous to question any official directive or policy.  
In the past under Stalin, millions of his
countrymen were put in gulags, condemned to forced labor, possibly death, because of simply voicing
their views or acting in an improper manner.
 Even Sergi Korolev, the great Chief Designer, had spent time
in a gulag,
(4D) just because someone questioned his loyalty to the party.  To his credit, Nikita Khrushchev was a
revisionist and wanted to relax the tight fisted terror of the Stalin era.
He realized that if the Communist system
was to survive it would have to be tempered with a certain degree of individualism, creative thought and free speech.
This was necessary to revitalize the country. But wounds to the heart heal slowly as with the collective soul of Russia.
Yes, old ways die hard.
This was an exploitive system, especially under Stalin, on trumped up charges
millions of his countrymen were given a number and prison term and carted off to remote regions to do
slave labor.
It was this systems way of recruiting free labor for the work camps in order to build railroads, hydroelectric
dams, towns, and highways. These poor souls were starved and ragged and forced to hand dig canals and do logging
in extreme conditions, and made to work long hours in unsafe mines.
Robbed of youth, health and human dignity
many of them died brokenhearted.
During his lifetime he had witnessed such human suffering on a grand scale,
then why would the insignificance of a dying dog move him like this? During the war amid all the carnage he would
come across wounded horses that were artillery causalities, ripped open by shrapnel. Amongst human slaughter the
plight of these poor beasts was mostly ignored but the sight of them always touched him and he would use his service
pistol to end their suffering. Perhaps he just saw things differently.  Sometimes, that which is tolerated on a grand scale,
is also repulsive on the small scale. He had a soft heart for animals and couldn't help it. He was proud to take part in
space research but this Sputnik 2 mission made him feel dirty, almost like he had betrayed the trust of a true friend, just
to please his Soviet bosses. Granted,
this was a suicide mission and the objective of this experiment was to
see how long an animal could survive in space.
 But engineers admitted there wasn’t enough time to
design a good thermal control system which did in fact fail early on, killing Laika in 5 to 7 hours and flawing
the objective of the test from the start.
(2)  Could this blotched experiment now reveal any startling new information?  
Sensationalism aside, certainly Sputnik 2 is a small step forward but it isn’t in the same class with the first rate dog
flights that are due to begin in 3 years or so.  Most would agree that ethically, the sacrifice of a test subject should be
carried out in a precise manner in order to get meaningful results the first time.  
They already knew that test animals
could survive in a short term weightless state, from
the earlier vertical rocket missions and parabolic
airplane rides. Was the ghostly fist of Stalin still over them?  It seemed to be the same old climate of fear, the
Khrushchev mandate had to be executed on time and nobody wanted their name on a technical report which would
delay the launch past the set time.  In truth, were they afraid, and just went ahead and launched with a less than
satisfactory thermal control system?  After all, the most important issues were to launch on time, get into orbit and not
let your name appear on the wrong piece of paper.  By default the Communist system was fertile ground for nurturing
spineless men.  It dehumanized and degraded men because it was a system that perpetuated itself by feeding on itself.  
Now the tentacles of this system had even wrapped around the finest engineers and scientists of the Motherland.  He
had his fill of this exploitive regime! Perhaps for the sake of his inner peace, it was better to be a victim of this tyrannical
system then to be part of the machinery which perpetuates it. He no longer cared about his own fate but he had to think
about the welfare of his family before anything else. Collectively it was all painful for him and with regard to Laika, he
could only reflect back with a degree of comfort.
“Laika was a wonderful dog,, quiet and very placid. Before the
flight to the Cosmodrome, he once brought her home and showed her to the children. They played with
her. He wanted to do something nice for the dog. He knew that she only had a short time to live”.
(5A) Now
he was glad for having done that.  Laika never was a pampered pet in a loving home.  Perhaps, if only for a brief time, it
was the only real home experience that Laika ever had.

“Comrade Doctor, Comrade Doctor, the cabin temperature please !!  Is the test subject cooked ?", shouted the Flight
Director from across the room! This was the final degradation to his little canine friend that he could stomach.  
Suddenly, like a cresting wave, all of these feelings washed over him. Flooded with emotion he jumped up and with
strong, penetrating eyes, he glared at his comrades in silence!  Then he turned and walked quickly, in a military like
assertive way, with heavy grinding steps he moved toward the outside door.  Resolved to a "damn them all" attitude, he
knowingly abandoned his post at a critical time.  He was a big man, in close quarters the wake of his brushing
movement sucked a log sheet off the Directors desk as he stormed out of the control room into the crisp November
night!  There he tried to collect himself with a breath of fresh air.  He felt embarrassed by his exit, the Soviet system had
always controlled every aspect of his life, even his right to personal expression,, but it would never again,,,, rule over
his soft heart.  Forcing himself, he slowly looked upward,,, and focused on
Laika's star,, as it twinkled one last time,,
before moving behind a bank of clouds.

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

CHAPTER #7 - long version
THE BOND BETWEEN MAN AND DOG - long version - strong commentary