Space Dogs

At the Zvezda Plant outside Moscow

Iím starting with this photo because it represents an unexpected completion of a circle in life. The display in the photograph relates to special event in the race to space and the race to space goes back a little farther for me. Two years before this event, in the fall of 1958, I was beginning my senior year in high school. I choose as my senior paper theme the sad state of affairs in the U.S. space program as compared to the U.S.S.R.ís. All the space firsts of that time were of great interest and the Russians seemed to be making most of them. The 1961 World Book Annual Supplement for the events of 1960 says about this event: "The first living beings to return from orbit were brought back by the Soviet Union on August 20. Russia orbited Sputnik V, a five-ton space Ďcabiní on August 19. In the cabin, separated by a glass partition, rode two female space dogs, along with rats, mice, fungi, flies, and plant seeds. The animals were lofted to determine the physiological effects of the space ride." Now 40 years later I am standing in front of a display of the capsule that contained the dogs and their life support system. I think I even recognized the dogs in the picture! Strelka is the white dog with colored ears and the little black vest. Belka is the solid white dog. (Their names are printed in Russian on the label at the bottom of the picture. Notice that the poster illustrating crew escape systems is in English.) The dogs pictured above the frame are descendants of the space dogs. There were a bunch of those small dogs running around on the grounds of Zvezda. I looked at the picture in the encyclopedia to be sure of my facts and found that a black dog with a white facial stripe was in the picture with Strelka, but the caption referred to Belka. (The dog with the white stripe in this photo is not the one in the encyclopedia photo.) I donít know how that mistake came about; I assume this photo is correct. Thanks to Raul Blanco for taking this picture. He is in the next photo and it completes another circle. It is connected to my experience as a test subject in the mid 60ís.

This additional information was sent to me by "Papillon" in October 2005:
The picture of the dogs was taken during a March 1961 press-conference to provide photo-ops for reporters concerning the most recent dog missions - Korabel-Sputnik- 4 & 5, which were the final test flights prior to Yuri Gagarin's flight of April 12, 1961. I have italicized "orbital" because there were numerous sub-orbital flights between 1951 & 1960. Even though their flights were 6-7 months apart, all 4 dogs were at the same press conference (as well as Strelka's litter of pups).

Left to right the dogs are:

Dogs on Postage Stamp1. STRELKA (Little Arrow): (co-flight with Belka) one of two orbital dogs who were the first ever to be recovered alive. Flight: 18 orbits on Aug 19-20, 1960 aboard Korabel-Sputnik-2 (aka: Sputnik 5). Strelka was pregnant during the mission and later gave birth to 6 healthy puppies. The litter was also at the press conference. Bulgaria issued a stamp drawn from the picture in the museum as shown in the photograph above. Strelka's body is preserved and is on display at a Moscow Space Museum.

2. CHERNUSHKA (Blackie) - next to last orbital flight, about a month before Gagarin. Chernushka flew 1 orbit on March 9, 1961 aboard Korabel-Sputnik-4 (aka: Sputnik-9)

3. ZVEZDOCHKA (Little Star) - Named by Yuri Gagarin. Zvezcochka flew the last orbital flight, about 2 weeks prior to Gagarin's. She flew 1 orbit on March 25, 1961 aboard Korabel-Sputnik- 5 (aka: Sputnik-10). Zvezdochka shared the mission with a wooden dummy Cosmonaut, "Ivan Ivanovich."

4. BELKA (Squirrel): (co-flight with Strelka) one of two orbital dogs that were the first to be recovered alive. Flight: 18 orbits on Aug 19-20, 1960 aboard Korabel-Sputnik-2 (aka: Sputnik-5)

Dogs Survive Exposure to Vacuum

I will also mention here the experiment with dogs at vacuum. The experiments were performed by the U.S. in the early Ď60ís. There was a 100% survival rate for dogs exposed to vacuum for about 30 seconds. The survival rate dropped to 50% for those exposed to vacuum for 2 minutes. (None survived the autopsies!) I had heard about the experiments for years and then finally saw a printed report from the JSC technical library. Only microfiche copies remained the last time I checked. At another time and place I will tell how one of our test subjects suffered a brief exposure to near vacuum and survived. Arthur C. Clarke is supposed to have checked this out before he wrote the scene in 2001: A Space Odyssey of an unprotected astronaut transferring through vacuum into an airlock and then performing an emergency repressurization before losing consciousness.

First EVA

Raul by Spacecraft Display A Russian Cosmonaut performed the first orbital EVA. That is, he was the first to go outside an orbiting spacecraft. I donít have the dates and cosmonautís name at hand; I may add it later or make it available by email for those interested. Not much information was available back then; even when I was the test subject for our own planned EVA in '65. Now here at Zvezda is a mockup of the spacecraft and the inflatable airlock that was added just to do that first EVA. The airlock was made like an air mattress rolled into a cylinder. It was attached folded on the spacecraft hatch. For use, the ribs in the wall were inflated to spacecraft pressure so that it took the cylindrical shape, then the inside was inflated. With both volumes (the spacecraft and the airlock) at the same pressure, the hatch between them could be opened and the cosmonaut could inter the airlock. That hatch was then closed and the air in the cylinder volume was vented to space. The outer hatch could then be opened to allow exit to the outside. It apparently was difficult for the cosmonaut to reenter the airlock because it was too floppy. The airlock was jettisoned prior to reentry of the spacecraft. I was really surprised to find out how they had done the EVA. We didnít use airlocks on spacecraft until Skylab. Without an airlock, the entire spacecraft has to be vented to vacuum pressure and all crew members have to be in pressure suits.

Soyuz Flight Suit Earlier Space Suit I think the suit on the left is the suit normally used on the Soyuz. This display of Zvezda's products is in a basement that looks like it was once a secure vault or bomb shelter. The first 'C' in 'CCCP' stands for 'SOYUZ' which means 'union.' The letter 'C' represents the 's' sound in Russian. The 'P' is the Greek 'rho' and has an 'r' sound.

The suit on the right may have been an earlier suit.

Voskhod Flight Suit Mir Orlan Space Suit In the photo on the left the label for the display is "Voskhod." The Russian letters 'BOC' have the sound of 'vos,' the 'X' is 'kh,' and the final character is a Greek 'delta' which has the 'd' sound.

The photo on the right shows a display of the Mir Orlon EVA space suit. It is the type that was being tested while we were there. It was later shipped to the U.S. and the Russian team came to our test facility to do a joint space suit test in our Space Station Airlock Test Facility at the Lyndon B. Johnson Space Center in Houston, Texas.

PAGE ONE - Flight to Moscow by charter jet. Visit to the famous open-air market. Red Square and St. Basil in the snow. Kremlin tour. The new mall. Currency exchange, a 500 ruble note, and a glass crystal egg.
PAGE TWO The week a Zvezda (Star) - Zvezda designs, tests, and manufactures space suits, life support systems, and aircraft ejection seats. We went to their plant on the outskirts of Moscow, toured their museum, and observed the manned vacuum chamber test. We made a night visit to Red Square and another subway trip to the Starlight Diner.
ZVEZDA SPACE MUSEUM - Several photos of the displays with commentary. Zvezda built the capsule and life support system for the first dogs in space. There was a big display about that. All the early space suits were diplayed. The spacecraft and airlock from which the world's fist EVA was made was on display.
Space Suit Test at Zvezda - The whole purpose for the trip was to observe an actual manned test of the refurbished Orlan spacesuit that was brought back from the Mir by the Shuttle. These photos show the vacuum chamber (vac-camera), the control consoles, the Orlan suit suspended in the chamber, and Gennady, the expert suit engineer and test subject.
Jemma Mitchell's MOSCOW PHOTOS - Moscow in summer. Red Square, St. Basil, GUM, Kremlin, Lennin's Tomb, Views of the Kremlin from across the Moscow River.
Cycling Moscow to St. Petersburg - This is a really fun travel article. Some great photos around Moscow and out in rural areas. Photos of those who participated in the trip organized by Russian families and promoted on the web. The photos and story get better page after page. Seven great pages in all.
Another MOSCOW Journal - Journal and photos of a man who visited three months after my visit. There are photos of many buildings and some fine artwork from the subway. There is a great photo of one of the Patriotic Sculptures in the subway. It depicts a sitting woman with a rifle. I think I saw it during my subway travels. Part 2 has some copies of paintings from the nineteenth century and photos from the subways.
Marina's Moscow - A young woman of Moscow displays travel photos and interesting information about Moscow.


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Originally Dated: 12/11/02
Re-posted: 1/2/03
Update: 10/17/05