During the 1950s and 1960s the USSR used a number of dogs for sub-orbital and orbital space flights to determine whether human spaceflight was feasible. In this period, the Soviet Union launched missions with passenger slots for at least 57 dogs. The actual number of dogs in space is smaller, as some dogs flew more than once. Most survived; the few that died were lost mostly through technical failures, according to the parameters of the test.

Belka (eng.”Whitey”) and Strelka (eng.”Arrow”) spent a day in Space aboard Korabl-Sputnik-2 (Sputnik 5) on August 19, 1960 before safely returning to Earth.

They were accompanied by a grey rabbit, 42 mice, 2 rats, flies and a number of plants and fungi. All passengers survived. They were the first Earth-born creatures to go into orbit and return alive.

Strelka went on to have six puppies with a male dog named Pushok who participated in many ground-based space experiments, but never made it into space. One of the pups was named Pushinka and was presented to President John F. Kennedy’s daughter Caroline by Nikita Khrushchev in 1961. A Cold War romance bloomed between Pushinka and a Kennedy dog named Charlie resulting in the birth of 4 pups that JFK referred to jokingly as pupniks. Two of their pups, Butterfly and Streaker were given away to children in the Midwest. The other two puppies, White Tips and Blackie, stayed at the Kennedy home on Squaw Island but were eventually given away to family friends.Pushinka’s descendants are still living today.

SovietEraMuseum exclusive. Original soviet postcards with Belka and Strelka.

Tags: , , ,

Leave a Reply