Literary Hub

Gaze Upon These Heroic (and Very Good) Space Dogs!

If it weren’t for the heroism (and overall good boyness and girlness) of the following Soviet space dogs, it’s unlikely we’d be celebrating the 50th anniversary of the Moon Landing today. Thanks, space dogs!

Ugolek (‘Little Piece of Coal’) and Veterok (‘Light Breeze’) being exercised in their pressurised flight suits. They would go on to spend 22 days orbiting Earth aboard the Kosmos 110 biosatellite. © SPUTNIK/Alamy Stock Photo

Laika in the training capsule prior to her space mission. As part of their preparation for flight, dogs were trained to be comfortable in confined spaces and endure extended periods of inactivity. © SPUTNIK/Alamy Stock Photo

Special chambers within the capsule of Sputnik 5 contained plates treated with chemicals that released oxygen, absorbed CO2 and excess humidity. Control apparatus monitored temperature and air pressure as well as the dogs’ vital signs. © Roscosmos

A Soviet space dog wearing a pressure suit and acrylic glass bubble mask. Female dogs were chosen due to their size and temperament, but also because of the design of the spacesuits.

© ITAR-TASS News Agency / Alamy Stock Photo

Kennedy family dog Charlie with Pushinka on the White House lawn in 1961. © Photo by © CORBIS/Corbis via Getty Images

In the 1950s the space race between the USA and the USSR was well and truly on, and was for both nations a matter of pride and propaganda. But before man ventured into the cosmos, his four-legged friends would pave the way for space exploration. © Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images

After a 24-hour orbit, 200 miles above the Earth, the animals returned to the ground safely. The little dogs became instant celebrities, and were touted before the world’s media in a Soviet propaganda coup. © Manchester Daily Express/SSPL / Science & Society Picture Library. All rights reserved.

Porcelain commemorative plate showing Belka and Strelka looking skywards, with Saturn and Sputnik 5 picked out in gold. © Martin Parr

1958 postcard with portrait of Laika by the artist E. Bundobin, with the first three sputniks shown in the background. © Martin Parr

Belyanka and Pyostraya in the Rocket, a 1961 Russian children’s book by writer V. Borozdin, describing the work of the Soviet space dogs. © Martin Parr

Set of five handmade and hand-painted wooden nesting Matryoshka dolls. The largest is 15cm (6in) high.

© Martin Parr

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Excerpted from Space Dogs: The Story of the Celebrated Canine Cosmonauts. Used with permission of Laurence King Publishing.

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