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Belka & Strelka: The First Dogs in Space

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On August 19, 1960 – just over 54 years ago, the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 5 into space. On board were 40 mice, 2 rats, a rabbit, several fruit flies, some plants, and two very special dogs.

Belka and Strelka were the first animals to enter space and return to Earth safely. They were instrumental in the future of human space flight, giving the Soviets the confidence necessary to send humans into orbit less than a year after their safe return.

In the video below, see real-life footage of the special dogs that made human space flight possible.

Both Belka and Strelka’s bodies were preserved after their deaths, and the pair are on display in Russia’s Memorial Museum of Cosmonauts in Moscow.

One dog’s historical value doesn’t end their, either. According to the Smithsonian’s Air & Space Magazine,Strelka continued to make history when her puppy, Pushinka, was gifted to First Lady Jacqueline Kennedy by Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev. Pushinka lived with the Kennedys in the White House.

Among other tricks, Pushinka learned to climb the ladder to daughter Caroline’s playhouse. She had four puppies of her own—Blackie, Butterfly, White Tip and Streaker—who were later given away.

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3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. John F. Kennedy Facts | Mental Floss – latestwhat

    says:

    […] The Kennedy White House was a bit of a zoo. Among the animals that called 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home during JFK’s administration were five horses, two parakeets, two hamsters, a cat, a rabbit, and five dogs, including a mutt named Pushinka, a gift from Nikita Khrushchev. Pushinka was the daughter of Strelka, one of the first dogs in space. […]

  2. Avatar Of Sherel

    sherel

    says:

    its just amazing how a stray is a hero!

  3. 25 Fascinating Facts About John F. Kennedy | Web Consultant

    says:

    […] The Kennedy White House was a bit of a zoo. Among the animals that called 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue home during JFK’s administration were five horses, two parakeets, two hamsters, a cat, a rabbit, and five dogs, including a mutt named Pushinka, a gift from Nikita Khrushchev. Pushinka was the daughter of Strelka, one of the first dogs in space. […]

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