On This Day in Aviation History – Dogs in Space
Contributor: Barry Fetzer
Sources: History.com, Wikipedia
Muttley is a fictional dog created in 1968 by Hanna-Barbera Productions; he was originally voiced by Don Messick. He is the sidekick to the cartoon villain Dick Dastardly. Courtesy of Hanna-Barbera.
Dogs. In. Space. (cue eerie space music). I have thought, from time-to-time, that it might be a good idea for our own Muttley (so nick-named after Muttley, the cartoon dog who was drawn wearing a pilot’s helmet, goggles, and scarf and voiced with the hilarious laugh) to be blasted into space herself. Our Muttley’s hearing is waning a bit (not unlike my own) and she barks at perceived visitors who she thinks she hears but there are no visitors in sight. I escort her to the door to show her the “no visitors”, yet she routinely barks at these supposed interlopers that she thinks she hears. While the barking is tedious and it would be quieter around here without her, we’d miss Sassy (our rescued half poodle/half dachshund’s real name) if she was blasted into outer space like the heroine of today’s aviation history vignette.
Laika in a flight harness. First earthling to orbit earth. Courtesy Wikipedia.
On this day in aviation history, according to History.com, “…a dog was launched into low orbit on 3 November 1957. The Soviet Union launched the first animal to orbit the earth into space—a dog nicknamed Laika—aboard the Sputnik 2 spacecraft.
“Laika, part Siberian husky, lived as a stray on the Moscow streets before being enlisted into the Soviet space program. Laika survived for a few hours as a passenger in the USSR’s second artificial Earth satellite, kept alive by a sophisticated life-support system. Electrodes attached to her body provided scientists on the ground with important information about the biological effects of space travel. She died from overheating and panic.
According to Wikipedia, “Soviet scientists chose to use Moscow strays since they assumed that such animals had already learned to endure conditions of extreme cold and hunger. Before the launch one of the mission scientists took Laika home to play with his children. In a book chronicling the story of Soviet space medicine, Vladimir Yazdovsky wrote, ‘Laika was quiet and charming … I wanted to do something nice for her: She had so little time left to live.’”
And back to History.com, “At least a dozen more Russian dogs were launched into space in preparation for the first manned Soviet space mission, and at least five of these dogs died in flight. On April 12, 1961, Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin became the first human to travel into space, aboard the spacecraft Vostok 1. He orbited Earth once before landing safely in the USSR.”