She wasn't the first animal in space (that was a batch of fruit flies aboard a V2 launched by the US in 1947, recovered alive as well). She wasn't the first mammal in space (that was a rhesus monkey also aboard a V2 launched by the US, named Albert II, tin 1949). She wasn't even the first dog in space (the Soviet Union launched numerous dogs into space in the early 50s including a few that survived and made it back safely). She also wasn't the first thing launched into orbit (that was of course Sputnik 1, earlier the same year as Laika in 1957).

Her biggest claim to fame is being the first animal to orbit the earth. This was essentially just Sputnik with a dog in it (in fact her spaceship was named Sputnik 2). Technologically speaking, as amazing as Sputnik truly was (orbital launches are a serious step forward for sure), putting a dog in essentially the same vehicle as Sputnik with barebones life support, with the knowledge that she will die in orbit (she survived only several hours), why was Laika's journey so notable/made so famous? What technological achievements am I missing here? Or was this mostly just a massive PR/propoganda coup for the Soviet Union, thanks to a musunderstanding of what Laika actually achieved (googling "Laika" returns tons of results suggesting she was the first animal or dog in space)?

Source: reddit post


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