Selecting the first animal cosmonauts

Preparing "man's best friend" to become an astronaut began with a rigorous screening process. One of the qualities required of the dogs was obvious - they had to be small. To fit in the limited payload space (9.8 cubic feet) of the R-1, along with all of the collateral equipment, the ideal dog had to weigh between 13 and 16 pounds, slightly larger than a house cat. But being small was only the first of many qualities the successful canine candidate had to possess.

Because dogs that were too old or too young did not react as well to harsh conditions, the age cut-off fell between 18 months and 6 years. Since the animals would be filmed during the flight under poor illumination in their cramped container, light-coloured fur was an important factor. Because the sanitary device attached to the dog's clothing fit females better than males, only female dogs were used [5].

Using those criteria, recruitment began. Fortunately, stray dogs were plentiful on the streets of Moscow, and these formed the main pool of candidates for the space dog training programme. Most of the dogs were rounded up from the pound. Purebred dogs had not earned high marks in early lab tests. Mongrels, on the other hand, were made of sterner stuff, especially if they had lived a hard life on the streets, becoming inured to hunger and cold [3]. Such heartiness would serve them well during the rigorous training programme on which they were about to embark.

Each dog got a thorough physical; its height, length, and weight were measured, after which they were categorised by personality. Even-tempered dogs went into one group, restless dogs into another and sluggish dogs into a third. These classifications would help determine the course of their training and their suitability for certain flights. Later in the space dog programme, personality sorting and behavioural profiling would determine whether a dog would be classified as a "rocket dog'', suitable for shorter, ballistic flights, or a "satellite dog'', more suited for longer, orbital flights.

Among the group of dogs to go into training for the first series of dog launches were those named Bobik, Chizhik, Dezik, Lisa, Mishka, Neputevvy, Ryzhik, Smelaya and Tsygan. Unfortunately, Bobik missed his chance for fame by running off the day before his flight. A stray dog was quickly recruited and given the name ZIB, which is the Russian acronym, derived from the words "substitute for missing dog Bobik''. Also in that first class of canine recruits were several dogs that would fly in the second series of launches, including Albina, Kozyavka and Malyshka.

The corps of canine cosmonauts would be in flux over the years. Some dogs did not hold up well under the rigours of the programme and were removed. Others would be in the programme for years and make multiple flights. Still others might be around for years but would only be used to aid in the development of training methods, test equipment or be part of various control groups.

Essentials of Human Physiology

Essentials of Human Physiology

This ebook provides an introductory explanation of the workings of the human body, with an effort to draw connections between the body systems and explain their interdependencies. A framework for the book is homeostasis and how the body maintains balance within each system. This is intended as a first introduction to physiology for a college-level course.

Get My Free Ebook


Post a comment