History is fraught with tales of those who gave their lives for the betterment of the human race. But not all martyrs are humans. Before mankind could take to the stars, somebody had to make sure it was relatively safe. In the year 1957 this task fell squarely on the shoulders of a stray dog from the streets of Moscow named Laika. Laika gave her life while becoming the first living creature to ever orbit the earth. Decades later, the praises of this pooch are sung loudly in books, songs, and even with Laika tattoos.
Scientists on both sides of the space race were desperate to be the first to send a man into space In order to test the effects of space on a living organism, both the US and the USSR had been blasting small animals off earth for several years. The United States succeeding getting a monkey into space as early as 1949, and the Soviets were desperate to one up them by sending a dog. Though they had succeeding in launching two dogs into space (both of which somehow fucking survived), the true test would be an orbital voyage.
Laika was chosen for the mission because Soviet scientists reasoned that a dog living on the streets of Moscow would already be used to conditions of extreme cold and hunger. The approximately three year old pup was prepped for the mission by being confined in smaller and smaller cages to prepare her for her voyage in the cramped vessel. And just like the human cosmonauts, Laika was also placed in centrifuges to simulate the g-force of a rocket launch and switched to a diet of high in nutrient gel.
On October 30th, 1957, Laika was put into the satellite, Sputnik 2, which wasn’t launched until three days later. One of the technicians famously stated, "After placing Laika in the container and before closing the hatch, we kissed her nose and wished her bon voyage, knowing that she would not survive the flight."
The launch was a success. Laika survived the pressures of earth’s escape velocity and Sputnik 2 settled into an orbit of the planet. For many years, the Soviets maintained conflicting reports that Laika was either euthanized or died from asphyxia, but in the early 2000s it came out the the brave dog perished during her fourth orbit of earth when Sputnik 2’s temperature control system failed and she overheated.
Laika’s death was not in vain. The scientific data gathered from the mission helped path the way for humans to orbit the earth safely. And today she is remembered as one of the most famous dogs in all of history. There exist several physical monuments to Laika, as well as many more in the form of tattoos. We’ve gathered a handful of the best Laika-inspired tattoos we could find to do our part to honor this fallen cosmonaut. Whether it be a tattoo of Laika herself, or someone’s favorite dog in a rocket, these tattoos are a brilliant homage.
We absolutely love the way these people have kept her legacy alive with a Laika tattoo. We hope this article makes you curious about the history of space exploration. It really is a fascinating topic, and Laika’s story is only one of many.