A recycled post from this blog, circa this day in 2005
The above photo is a rare picture of the space-dog, Laika, in her space suit. Though often described as a "husky," Laika was, in fact, a 13-pound, smooth female fox terrier mix which had been a stray on the streets of Moscow. Females were chosen because they did not have to stand and lift their leg to urinate. Astronaut dogs were trained to stay very still for long periods of time (they spent 15-20 days at a time in small boxes) and to wear a pressurized suit and helmet.
"Laika" was launched into space in Sputnik 2 on November 3, 1957. Laika, whose real name was Kudryavka (Little Curly), was dubbed "Muttnik" by American newspapers.
Laika was the first living creature ever to be launched into earth orbit, and it was known that she would die in space, as there was no recovery method for true orbital flight in those days.
At the World Space Congress in Houston in November of 2003, Dimitri Malashenkov of the Institute for Biological problems in Moscow finally revealed that immediately after launch Laika's capsule reached speeds of nearly 18,000 miles per hour. As the pressure in the capsule increased, Laika's pulse rate increased to three times its normal level. Five to seven hours into the flight, no life signs were evident, and it is believed Laika died of over-heating, stress, and pressure. Sputnik 2 fell back to earth on April 14, 1958 -- four and a half months after leaving earth -- and burned up on re-entry.