August 19, 2020
Sixty years ago, on August 19, 1960, a second satellite 1K, a prototype of the Vostok manned spacecraft, with the dogs Belka and Strelka on board, was launched into near-earth orbit. Besides them, there were mice, insects, plants, fungal crops, seeds, some types of microbes and other biological objects. This was the first orbital flight of living beings with a successful return to Earth.
Sergei Korolev personally supervised the preparation of the expedition. According to a special method, 12 dogs were selected: weight – up to 6 kilograms, height – up to 35 centimeters, age – from two to six years, light color. Outbreds Belka and Strelka proved to be the best in the group. The purpose of the experiment is to study the effect of space flight on living organisms, as well as to work out life support systems and return to Earth. The flight lasted more than 25 hours, during which time the ship made 17 complete revolutions around the Earth.
After the flight, the dogs lived in the Institute of Aviation and Space Medicine, from where they were taken to kindergartens and schools to be shown. A few months later Strelka gave birth to six absolutely healthy puppies. One of them was presented to the wife of US President John F. Kennedy, Jacqueline. Belka and Strelka lived to a ripe old age and died a natural death.
Belka and Strelka were the third canine crew sent into orbit. The dog Laika became a space pioneer in 1957. The journey of Belka and Strelka made it possible to draw conclusions about the possibility of man to make an orbital flight around the Earth. In the course of it, unique scientific data on the influence of space flight factors were obtained.
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