Most of us are by now familiar with Laika (Лайка, "Barker"), the first space dog and her fateful journey aboard Sputnik 2 on November 3, 1957, but did you know that there were at least 26 other Soviet Space Dogs shot into space?
This is Chernushka (Чернушка, "Blackie"). She made one orbit on board Korabl-Sputnik-4 (Sputnik 9) on March 9, 1961 with a cosmonaut dummy (whom Russian officials nicknamed "Ivan Ivanovich"), mice and a guinea pig. The dummy was ejected out of the capsule during re-entry and made a soft landing using a parachute. Chernushka was recovered unharmed inside the capsule.
Veterok and Ugolyok
Meet Veterok (Ветерок, "Little Wind/Breeze") and Ugolyok (Уголёк, "Little Piece of Coal"). They were launched on February 22, 1966 on board Cosmos 110, and spent 22 days in orbit before landing on March 16. This spaceflight of record-breaking duration was not surpassed by humans until Skylab 2 in June 1973 and still stands as the longest space flight by dogs.
Female dogs were used because of their temperament and because the suit for the dogs in order to collect urine and faeces was equipped with a special device, designed to work only with females.
The cool part is that unlike poor Laika, most of these little guys made it back home safely and received the appropriate star treatment.
But wait, there's more! There's an animated Russian feature film called Star Dogs: Belka and Strelka that's currently in production and scheduled to open in Russian theaters in December 2009.
Meet the rest!: More Soviet Space Dogs
U mina plokha s ruskim,
A big spasiba to fellow stamp geek Joseph Morris for sharing his awesome stamps!