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Russian officials unveiled a monument to a little dog named Laika. The small monument features a dog standing on top of a rocket, and is near a military research facility in Moscow that prepared Laika’s flight into space on November 3, 1957. Back then, little was known about the impact of space flight on living beings. Some believed humans would be unable to survive the launch or the conditions of outer space. They decided to send a dog instead.

Imagine the suffering this dog went through for a few hours, and then died. Laika is still in that spacecraft. Scientists called them “space heroes of the future.”

All the dogs used in the Soviet space program were strays- as if that made any difference. They reasoned that a stray could adapt quicker to harsh conditions than purebreds. All were small so they could fit into the tiny capsules. Two year old Laika was chosen for the Sputnik 2 flight just nine days before the launch. The flight meant a certain death, since there was no re-entry vehicle.

Laika died within a few hours from stress and over-heating.Worldwide debate followed over the use of animals in space. After much condemnation from the Americans over the sadistic use in killing animals, they launched a rocket containing
“Ham”, a chimp, into space.

Not much has changed in sending innocent animals to a certain death. At present the Russians are training monkeys to be the first earthlings to make the long – and one-way-only voyage to mars.

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