Sputnik 2 sent the first life, a dog named Laika, into orbit around earth. The objective was to see whether the space environment was safe for humans and conduct other experiments.
Only a month after the launch of Sputnik 1, the Russians launched Sputnik 2 on November 3, 1957 . This second satellite weighed 1,120 pounds and was significantly more complex. It contained compartments for scientific instruments, radio transmitters, a telemetry system, a programming unit, and a temperature control system. Spectrophotometers were used to measure radiation, and a television camera was installed in another cabin to video tape the first life ever launched in an orbital flight- Laika, a Russian Samoyed dog.
Laika, Russian for "Barker," had a short term life support system aboard the spacecraft. She was supposed to have been euthanized with a poisoned serving of food since Sputnik 2 had not been designed to be retrievable . The Russians originally reported that she died painlessly in orbit after four days. Upon launching, h er pulse rate rose to three times its resting level. Although the rate decreased upon reaching microgravity, it took three times as long as normal, indicating she was under stress. I n October 2002, Dimitri Malashenkov of the Institute for Biological Problems in Moscow revealed that Laika had actually died from overheating and panic a few hours after launch.
This experiment with Laika motivated space research for a manned spaceflight, and provided limited information on radiation. However, Laika's planned one-way trip to space renewed the debate over the treatment of animals, and ordinary Russians ridiculed it as mere space propaganda.
Keep in mind that this all took place during the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union . During this time, people believed that the more advanced a nation was in space technology, the more powerful it would be in fighting wars, since it might have the ability to send a nuclear bomb around the world. When the Cold War ended, the Space Race also ended. The United States and Russia soon became partners, agreeing to build a space station and work together in exploring space.