“Little Star” Launched Into Orbit
March 25, 1961: Sputnik 10 Carries “Little Star” Into Orbit
It was the last test flight of the Vostok spacecraft design prior to the first manned flight, Vostok 1. It carried the mannequin Ivan Ivanovich (Russian equivalent of John Doe), television cameras, scientific apparatus and a little dog named Zvezdochka – “Starlet” or “Little Star”.
Korabl-Sputnik 10 (Sputnik 5 in the West) was launched on March 25, 1961, atop a Vostok-K carrier rocket and successfully placed into low Earth orbit. As planned, the spacecraft completed a single orbit, and then reentered the atmosphere over the Soviet Union. The total flight time was approximately 105 minutes. During the descent, the mannequin was ejected from the spacecraft in a successful test of its ejection seat.
“Little Star” was recovered successfully, Yea!
Soviet Scientists believed that stray dogs were the best animal for the missions. They figured the harsh life of a stray dog developed superior survival techniques to cope with the stress of being launched into space.
They also preferred mongrels over pedigree dogs. In their opinion they thought they were more intelligent and sturdy than pure-bred dogs. They also had to be small – between 13 and 16 pounds and favored light fur because movies were made of the dogs in flight and it was easier to see a light-colored dog in a dark capsule.
Female dogs were preferred because they had a better temperament and fit better in the specially designed space suits (complete with acrylic glass bubble helmets). Plus they didn’t need to lift their legs to empty their bladders.
These were courageous little dogs who knew nothing of the dangers they were trained for. Some were not lucky enough to come home. They only knew loyalty to their masters, and had no idea they were paving the way for man’s flight to the stars. All these little “Star Dogs” are an important part of world history and they belong to us now.
Monument to Zvyozdochka
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