Photo: Dmitry Rogulin / City News
And they were not just Belka and Strelka.
Today, Cosmonautics Day is celebrated in Volgograd, as well as in other Russian regions.
On this occasion, specialists from the Russian Cynological Federation told the inhabitants of Volgograd about the first dogs that participated in space flights. Among them are not only the legendary Belka and Strelka.
“It was thanks to dogs that humans made their way into space,” Vladimir Golubev, president of the Russian Cynological Federation, told Gorodskiye Vesti’s reporters. – Space explorers received help not only from Belka and Strelka, but also from Laika, Zvezdochka and other pets.
The idea to be the first to launch dogs into space belonged to Sergei Korolev. He developed a program where the first man was to be put into orbit, and he decided to choose dogs as assistants. And this choice was not made by chance. First, as Vladimir Golubev says, four-legged pets have already been involved in the past as experimental subjects by the academic I. Pavlov. Secondly, dogs are easy to train, they can withstand heavy loads, they are not like humans, they are intimidated by loud and incomprehensible noises and they can be in tight experimental equipment.
– The selection of dogs was carried out in accordance with strict criteria, – said Vladimir Golubev. – The dimensions of the equipment, the parameters of the animals were taken into account. They selected dogs with good health, quick thinking, with a stable psyche. The weight should not exceed 6 kg and the height – 35 centimeters. Straight-haired dogs were given priority – they were conveniently attached to the sensors. The color of the wool was also chosen – white, light, they were clearly visible via video link.
In outer space, dogs traveled in pairs. This obtained an objective picture of what happened, excluding random factors. The appearance of the dogs was also under special control – after all, the results of the experiments were given to the public.
“During the experimental periods, the animals created the most comfortable conditions,” says Vladimir Golubev, “they were taken care of, fed well and taken out for a walk. The researchers had their favorites – dogs were spoiled with delicacies. was interested in their well-being every day, and he perceived every tragedy that occurred during the trials as a personal grief.
The first phase of space research was conducted using geophysical rockets. The dogs were placed in a special sealed cabin on trays tied with leashes. After reaching the required height, the rocket returned to the ground, while the hull, where the dogs were, sank with a parachute.
– The first flight was scheduled for July 22, 1951, – said Vladimir Golubev, – it was decided to send Dezik and Gypsy into outer space – both dogs were calm and resilient during the tests. And they were the first living beings to climb on a ballistic missile into the upper atmosphere to the conditioned boundary of space. The launch ended with a successful landing, however, the gypsy suffered a bit – he got a scratch on his stomach. But after this minor injury, he was no longer allowed to fly. The gypsy found a home and affectionate hosts – he was taken in by one of the researchers who participated in the experiments.
But Dezik made a second flight, Fox became his partner. But this experiment ended in tragedy. Upon landing, the device crashed, the dogs could not be rescued. Vladimir Golubev says that after this incident it was decided to develop a special catapult. Later, Mishka, Chizhik, Ryzhik, Courageous, Rozhok, Unlucky participated in the flights. They also flew in pairs, and not every flight ended successfully, but the scientists took all mistakes into account and further developed the spaceflight program.
On August 19, 1960, Belka and Strelka went into space. They made the first orbital flight, it lasted one day. The dogs landed safely. During these days, the capsule with the dogs made 17 turns around our planet. After this experiment, Strelka became a successful mother – she gave birth to 6 absolutely healthy puppies.
– Dog flying has become the starting point for crucial steps in space exploration, – believes Vladimir Golubev. Only thanks to the scientists and their fearless four-legged assistants, on April 12, 1961, USSR pilot cosmonaut Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin made the world’s first manned flight into space, opening a new era in space exploration for humanity.