In 1950s and 1960s Russia was using stray dogs for sub-orbital and orbital space flights previous to the first human space mission. Here is a list of Russian space dog names:
Male space dog names (capitals for stress)
Bars (BARS) – snow leopard
Bolik (BO-lik) – hypocorism
Dezik (DE-zik) – hypocorism
Pushok (poo-SHOK) – fluff
Ryzhik (RY-zhik) – ginger
Tsygan (tsy-GAN) – Gypsy
Ugolyok -(oogo-LYOK) – small piece of coal
Veterok (vete-ROK) – slight wind
Female space dog names (capitals for stress)
Albina (al-BEE-na) – female name
Belka (BEL-ka) – whitie
Chernushka (cher-NOOSH-ka) – blackie
Damka (DAM-ka) – “king” in checkers
Krasavka (kra-SAV-ka) – little beauty
Laika (LAJ-ka) – barker
Lisa (lee-SA) – fox
Lisichka (lee-SICH-ka) – small fox
Malyshka (ma-LYSH-ka) – little one
Mushka (MOOSH-ka) – little fly
Otvazhnaya (ot-VAZH-naya) – brave
Pchyolka (PCHYOL-ka) – little bee
Smelaya (SME-laya) – fearless
Snezhinka (sne-ZHEEN-ka) – snowflake
Strelka (STREL-ka) – little arrow
Tsyganka (tsy-GAN-ka) – Gypsy girl
Zvyozdochka (ZVYOZ-dochka) – little star
Laika is the best known Russian space dog name. In 1957 Laika became the first ever living creature in orbit. (Photo Credit: Charkrem/Flickr )
Laika was a mongrel dog rescued from a Moscow animal shelter. Her pedigree remains unknown, but she may have been a mix of Husky and/or Samoyed with other breeds also figuring into her makeup. She was approximately 3 years old when she was selected from a pool of three dogs to become the first living creature to orbit the earth.
On November 3, 1957, the Soviet Union sent Laika into orbit aboard the satellite Sputnik 2. According to Russian reports, Laika lived for a week aboard her spacecraft before she died. These reports encouraged scientists and government leaders who wanted to put humans in space.
In fact, Laika paid an enormous price to be the first dog in space. Over forty years after the fact, the BBC reported in 2002 that the Soviets had finally admitted that Laika did not live for five or six days and gently pass away as they had originally claimed. The reports confirm that she actually died within a few hours after going into orbit due to extreme heat conditions and a racing heart due to panic.
She became something of a viral meme around the world, featured on the pages of Italian comics and Japanese spinning tops – and inspiring the name of a Finnish rock band and a UK indie group, the Guardian says.
But not all onlookers were impressed. Celebrated as a martyr in the USSR, Laika was described as the “fuzziest, loneliest, unhappiest dog in the world” by a report in the Times. She stood as a symbol of the ruthless Soviet pursuit of technological progress over animal welfare.
On his 1961 visit to the United States the Soviet leader Nikita Khrushchev has gifted John F. Kennedy’s daughter Caroline a Russian puppy called Pushinka, a daughter of the Russian space dogs Pushok and Strelka. Caroline recalls the story.