On April 12, the Russians celebrated Cosmonautics Day. Everyone knows the names of Belka and Strelka, dogs that flew into space among the first living creatures. But there were many others besides them. The cinematographer told about them Vladimir Golubev.
The initiator and author of the idea of launching animals into space was Sergei Pavlovich Korolev. The program he devised was intended to be the start of the path to the first human orbit. Dogs were chosen as assistants in space exploration, because science has already accumulated experience in using dogs as assistance animals, and in addition, dogs are very trainable. It is easier to teach them to be in a limited space, to endure strong overloads and vibrations, not to be afraid of loud and incomprehensible sounds and to be in tight experimental equipment.
The dogs were selected according to strict criteria. The choice fell on dogs with good health, stable psyche and intelligence. Animals were also selected according to physical data: weighing up to 6 kilograms and up to 35 centimeters long, of a certain color and with short hair.
“The dogs traveled in pairs to get an objective picture of what happened and to exclude random factors specific to a particular animal,” Golubev emphasized. “During the experiments, scientists and researchers tried to create the most comfortable living conditions for their wards: they were well fed, cared for, walked.” It is reported by Megatyumen.ru.
The first stage of flight research was carried out using geophysical rockets. The dogs were placed in a sealed cabin on special trays, tied with belts. After rising to the required height, the rocket fell back, and the warhead with the dogs went down by parachute. The first flight was scheduled for July 22, 1951. After the meetings, it was decided that Dezik and Gypsy, who showed calmness and endurance in all tests, would be the first to fly into space.
“It was these dogs who became the first living creatures to fly a ballistic missile into the upper atmosphere to the conditional border of space for the first time in history. Their flight ended with a successful landing. The only injury was a scratch on Gypsy’s stomach After the injury, however, he was no longer allowed to fly. The gypsy was taken to his home by one of the researchers who worked on the experiments, says the dog handler.
Then there was a re-flight of Dezik with a new partner Lisa. Unfortunately, it ended tragically, due to a malfunction of the parachute system, the unit crashed on landing, both dogs died. After this incident, it was decided to develop an emergency ejection system. And then the dogs Mishka and Chizhik, Courageous and Ryzhik, Unlucky and Rozhok continued to help people.
The second phase of the research, which included testing a new ejection system and animal observation, also involved pairs of dogs. Each case helped to move forward and worked on the mistakes. On August 19, 1960, Belka and Strelka went into space. They became the first living things to complete a daily orbital flight and return safely. During this time, the ship made 17 complete revolutions around the Earth. Some time after landing, Strelka came with healthy offspring – six puppies.
Thanks to the scientists and their four-legged assistants, on April 12, 1961, USSR pilot-cosmonaut Yuri Alekseevich Gagarin made the world’s first manned flight into outer space, opening a new era of space exploration for mankind.
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