Friday, February 24, 2012

"Ground Control to Major Tom ..."

A few days ago America celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of John Glenn's historic orbital space flight. But space exploration has not been without its challenges: case in point, Russia's early entry, Laika the Space Dog (this is a true story, so if you're sensitive, you may want to stop reading here).

Everybody’s seen the picture of Laika the German shephered strapped into his capsule: noble, serene, ready to be launched into the void for the glory of Mother Russia. But did it ever occur to anyone (at the time, or now), the Russkies had no plan of bringing the besotted dog down? The Politburo just wanted the honor of sending the hound up; as for it coming back alive, bounding into the joyful waiting arms of little Alexei (or whoever) … meh.
Which leaves us with two unsettling mental pictures:

First, two days after the launch, Laika came down all right, in a hideous fireball somewhere over the bleak and trackless steppes.

Or second, its bones are up there still, silently orbiting.

Now go enjoy the day! *G*
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  1. Aw, that's just sad! Now I'll be wondering about that poor dog all day!

  2. Wow, John. Not exactly inspiring or uplifting. True, I have no doubt. It is sad when some creatures are considered expendable at any price, for any reason.

  3. I've seen the picture many, many times. My favorite museum is the Kansas Cosmosphere and Space Center in Hutchinson, Kansas. :)

    Actually, your theory is probably a combo of the two. My understanding (based on the information at the museum) is that the dog was actually anesthetized sometime afterwards (of course, once oxygen ran out, it probably wouldn't matter.) And, the likelihood of the capsule maintaining orbit for 50+ years without the orbit devolving is pretty unlikely.

  4. We sacrifice animals because we're human beings acting out our nature. If we're going to mourn the dog, we have to also mourn all the mice we kill by cultivating the fields that grow our soya beans. Etc. Sorry.