Exploration and Settlement

Space: The Final Frontier

What was the first animal sent into orbit?

The Soviets immediately followed the success of Sputnik 1 (launched October 4, 1957) by sending the first animal into space: a dog named Laika. The female Russian Samoyed traveled in a pressurized cabin aboard Sputnik 2, which was launched November 3, 1957, making her the first living creature to go into orbit. The trip ended badly for Laika, however; she died a few days into the journey. Before sending humans into orbit, both the Soviets and the Americans needed to prove that animals could survive in outer space. While the Soviets experimented with dogs traveling in space, by the end of 1958 the United States would send a monkey into space (but not into orbit). The following spring (May 28, 1959), two female monkeys, Able and Baker, were launched into orbit in a U.S. spacecraft and were recovered alive. They had traveled 300 miles aboard Jupiter.


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