Giant Leap for Caninekind

July 19, 2010

Torah Kachur

Science in Seconds On Location:  Torah in Almaty, Kazakhstan


Ahhh, the 'Stans.  Home to civil unrest, large oil companies pillaging the earth, Borat, and the Russian Space Program.  The Baikonur Cosmodrome somewhere in the middle of bloody nowhere Kazakhstan is the largest operational space launch facility in the world, and was also the first base of its kind.  In the 50's the Space Race was on - the cocky Americans against the secretive Russians.  They both had their successes - first man in space - point Russia (Yuri Gagarin), first man to walk on the moon - point US (Neil Armstrong).




Getting a man into space was monumental, but it couldn't have ever been done unless we subjected small stray dogs to endless days confined in a small box on diets of jellified food and strange contraptions for their excrement.  The Soviet Space Dogs are legendary - at least they are now with a recent release of an animated Russian film about them.  A couple of them have even been stuffed and are a feature display at the Cosmonaut Museum in Moscow.


The most famous Space Dogs are Belka (aka Whitey) and Strelka (aka Little Arrow) who were the first living creatures to go into orbit and survive (sadly Laika was first to orbit but died from stress and overheating).  These cool cats hit the skies on August 19th, 1960 aboard Sputnik 5.  This video makes it look like the little pups were actually enjoying themselves while experiencing zero gravity, severe constipation and getting flung around a centrifuge.  They even got their own little pressure suits and helmets!


Experiments on animals are not new, nor will they ever end.  I'm just happy both of these dogs got to live long and happy lives and Strelka even got to bone JFK's dog.  What a lucky bitch!



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