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11 of the bravest dogs in history

By: Noel Kirkpatrick on May 23, 2011, 12:10 p.m.
Laika in Sputnik 2

Photo: NASA/Wikimedia Commons

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History remembers Yuri Gagarin as the first man in space in 1961, but he was preceded in 1957 by Laika, a female terrier mix who was scooped up from the streets of Moscow and rocketed into history — becoming the first animal to orbit the Earth. Launched in the Russian satellite Sputnik 2, Laika became a global celebrity as the world marveled at her bravery.

Awe quickly turned to anger as it was revealed not long after the launch that the Soviets did not have a way to return Laika safely to Earth. She died after four days in the satellite due to overheating, and her remains were incinerated as Sputnik 2 re-entered Earth's atmosphere.