Squirrel and Arrow: 8 facts about flying
1. Squirrel and Strelka were the third dog crew to go into Earth orbit. In 1957, the Laika dog, launched “one way” on the Sputnik-2 spacecraft, became a space pioneer. After four rounds around the Earth, the dog died of overheating: the temperature in the chamber where it was located rose to 40 degrees Celsius, and there was no way to reduce it. Another dog crew - Seagull and Fox - died July 28, 1960. At the 19th second after the launch, the side rocket of the first stage collapsed near the launch vehicle, after which it fell and exploded. Squirrel and Strelka were understudies of the Seagull and the Chanterelle.
2. The purpose of the experiment was to conduct a daily orbital flight and return the dogs to Earth in the descent vehicle. Just in case, animals were prepared for an 8-day trip.
3. On August 19, 1960 at 11:44 Moscow time from the Baikonur Cosmodrome, from the launch complex No. 1, a spacecraft-satellite was launched into orbit. The preparation of the ship for launch was personally led by Sergey Pavlovich Korolev. In addition to Squirrels and Strelka, 12 mice, insects, plants, fungal cultures, seeds of corn, wheat, peas, onions, some types of microbes, and other biological objects were in the ejection container. And outside the ejection container, 28 laboratory mice and 2 white rats were placed in the ship’s cabin.
4. The flight of Squirrel and Arrow was the first to use television surveillance. The video information transmitted from the ship during the passage of the satellite ship in the coverage area of ground receiving points was recorded on film.
5. The ship with the dogs on board made 17 full orbits around the Earth. The arrow felt normal, the Squirrel after the fourth round became extremely restless, struggled and tried to free itself from the fastening elements, which indicated the deterioration of her health. However, no abnormalities were found in the post-flight analyzes in dogs. It was the behavior of the Squirrel that led to the decision to conduct only one-turn flight with the participation of man.
6. The flights of Squirrel and Strelka and other dogs took place largely thanks to the Russian Soviet physiologist, Nobel laureate Ivan Petrovich Pavlov (1849−1936), who used these animals in his experiments. As a result, a great deal of experience in working with dogs was accumulated in the USSR — ideal contenders for this role, unlike the same monkeys with their hectic behavior. As cosmonauts they used outbred mongrels selected from nurseries.
These animals underwent natural selection in the conditions of the street and a vagrant lifestyle, had good health, were quick-witted, unpretentious in food, and loyal to people. In the 1950s and 1960s, dozens of dogs took part in experimental flights on geophysical rockets, rising to various heights. 27 suborbital launches were carried out, two-thirds of the experiments ended successfully, in other cases the dogs died.
7. It was the journey of Squirrel and Strelka that made it possible to draw conclusions about the possibility of man to make an orbital flight around the Earth. During it, unique scientific data were obtained on the influence of space flight factors on the physiological, biochemical, genetic and cytological systems of animals and plants.
8. After the flight, the legendary dogs lived in the aviary of the Institute of Aviation and Space Medicine, from where they were taken to kindergartens, schools and orphanages for display. A few months later, Strelka brought offspring - six completely healthy puppies. One of them - a female named Pushinka - Nikita Khrushchev gave the wife of US President John F. Kennedy Jacqueline and their daughter Caroline. Squirrel and Strelka lived to a very old age and died their death. Stuffed dogs are in the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics in Moscow.