Space dogs: who mastered the path to space before Belka and Strelka

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 selected as assistants in space exploration, as science has already accumulated experience of using dogs as auxiliary animals, and in addition, dogs are very trainable. It is easier to teach them to be in a confined space, to withstand strong overloads and vibrations, not to be afraid of loud and incomprehensible noises and to be in dense 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 growing up to 35 centimeters, of a certain color and with short hair.

“The dogs traveled in pairs to get an objective picture of what happened and to rule out random factors specific to a particular animal,” Golubev stressed. “During the experiments, researchers and researchers tried to create the most comfortable living conditions for their wards: they were well fed, cared for, walked.” It is reported by

The first step of aviation 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 with a parachute. The first flight was scheduled for July 22, 1951. After the meetings, it was decided that Dezik and Gypsy would be the first to fly into space, which showed calmness and perseverance in all tests.

“It was these dogs that became the first living creatures to fly a ballistic missile into the upper atmosphere to the conditioned boundary of space for the first time in history. Their flight ended with a successful landing. The only damage 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 faults in the parachute system, the unit crashed on landing, both dogs died. Following 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.

Couples of dogs also participated in the second phase of the research, which included testing a new ejection system and animal observation tool. Each case helped to move forward and work on the mistakes. On August 19, 1960, Belka and Strelka went into space. They became the first living beings to perform a daily orbital flight and return safely. During this time, the ship made 17 complete revolutions around the earth. Some time after the landing, Strelka came with healthy offspring – six puppies.

Thanks to 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 in space exploration for humanity.


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