Belka and Strelka
On August 19th 1960 the Soviet Union launched Sputnik 5 into space. On board were two very special dogs. Belka and Strelka were the first animals to enter space and return to Earth safely. They were instrumental in the future of human space flight, giving the Soviets the confidence necessary to send humans into orbit less than a year after their safe return. Laika in 1957 was the first dog in space but sadly the technology did not exist to bring Laika safely back to Earth.
Both Belka and Strelka’s bodies were preserved after their deaths, and the pair are on display in Russia’s Memorial Museum of Cosmonauts in Moscow.
Strelka continued to make history when her puppy, Pushinka, was gifted to the First Lady, Jacqueline Kennedy by Soviet Premier Nikita Khuschchev, Pushinka lived with the Kennedys in the White House.