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the l onelies a s t ro n t aut

written and illustrated by Nadia Kovaliova

the lonel I est a s t ro naut an illustrated story dedicated to Soviet space dog Laika, that became the first living creature to orbit the Earth as well as the first living creature to die inthe orbit.

...I saw a big net following me all around the court. I did my best to run away, but..

...people ca u took me awa ght me and a truck y from my h ome. I left my friends b e through the hind. I saw them grids of the window waving tails to me.

I was travelling in a train for several days and several nights with all the other dogs, wondering where the destiny will lead us.

Once we got inside that building, each of us was examined by people in white robes and lots of unpleasant sharp metal objects, were trying to inject inside our furs.

We later got uniform and did different exercises. We practiced to fly.

People were kind to us. they were taking care of us. They feed us, and took us for a walk.

Sometimes I would sit in a small box for a week or two. I looked at the stars and moon. I wondered what is this all for. People were saying about me being the most patient and hard working dog. After the training ends, I was expected to do something very important.

Three .....

. . . . . o ... Tw ... One ... ...

..Launch !

It was so loud and noisy. I was scared. I could not get out, as I was attached to my seat. I was trembling and I could not feel my body.

I knew I did s omething significant. I definitely was a specia l dog. I know my friends s ee me. They know I am he re.

Laika was a Soviet space dog that became the first animal to orbit the Earth – as well as the first animal to die in orbit. As little was known about the impact of spaceflight on living creatures at the time of Laika's mission, and the technology to de-orbit had not yet been developed, there was no expectation of Laika's survival. Some scientists believed humans would be unable to survive the launch or the conditions of outer space, so engineers viewed flights by nonhuman animals as a necessary precursor to human missions.

Laika, a stray dog, originally named Kudryavka, underwent training with two other dogs, and was eventually chosen as the occupant of the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2 that was launched into outer space on November 3, 1957. Laika likely died within hours after launch from overheating, possibly caused by a failure of the central sustainer to separate from the payload. The true cause and time of her death was not made public until 2002. Instead, it was widely reported that she died when her oxygen ran out, or (as the Soviets initially insisted) she was euthanised prior to oxygen depletion. Nonetheless, the experiment proved that a living passenger could survive being launched into orbit and endure weightlessness, paving the way for human spaceflight and providing scientists with some of the first data on how living organisms react to spaceflight environments.

The Loneliest Astronaut