Laika, Lonely Stray and Unwitting Astronaut


Cold-war scientists under high command

designed early rocket, quickly planned,

that capsule required cargo – all in hand.

Stray bitch lifted from Soviet street,

starve-tested stomach, freeze-hard feet,

such tail-wag, eye-smile – so happy to meet.

On last living night with children played,

(was this the first time affection displayed)

all hope aborted when flight not delayed.

Before hatch closed men nose-kissed you,

destined to die, few would much miss you

– animal for astronaut, strange but true.

Sacrifice for science, on one-way flight,

Sputnik-shot to space, surely not right…

terror tripled your pulse, you died of fright.

Unheard your howls over engine whine,

demise kept secret until recent times,

this “space spectacular” an ethical crime.

You never asked to orbit the earth,

materialists state: dogs have no worth

unkind actions, cruel Krushchev cursed.



Laika (Russian: Лайка; c. 1954 – November 3, 1957) was a Soviet space dog who became one of the first animals in space, and the first animal to orbit the Earth. Laika, a stray dog from the streets of Moscow, was selected to be the occupant of the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2 that was launched into outer space on November 3, 1957.


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