Of all the tales and tails of woe, Belka and Strelka have a happy ending. Well not completely happy as they are taxidermy victims on display at the Zvezda Museum. Strelka does world tours though so at least she gets out more. She also had six puppies and one ended up being a Kennedy. The cold war had a waggley tail.
They spent August 19, 1960 in orbit and were the first to survive the journey as far as earth critters go. They went on to live and love proper. We can hope Belka at least got her tummy rubbed by a cosmonaut. The next two puppies to attempt space travel weren’t lucky at all but that’s another story. Belka and Strelka were a success. Laika, their predecessor, would have been the first to wag her tail at their homecoming. Puppy heroes the lot of them. Belka and Strelka were the subject of a 2010 animated film Space Dogs. One hopes Axel F was not involved.
There was a gray rabbit as well and 42 mice, and two rats. They didn’t have names that the public knew or the press the puppies did or the hand cream.
It’s time to name the bunny, the two rats and every single one of those 42 mice. Let’s raise a glass of Tang to them and all who dared to go where no man or puppy has gone before.
And some German film posters too: