The World Takes Note Of The Accomplishment

News of the historic launch grabbed the front page of the New York Times on 3 November, with the dramatic headline, "Soviet Fires New Satellite Carrying Dog'' [19]. No details about the canine passenger had yet been released. Other articles explained to the public such rarified space age concepts as solar radiation, cosmic rays, weightlessness and permanent space stations.

Concerned dog lovers found reassurance in the next day's New York Times page one headline that claimed the dog was alive and might be recovered [20]. But other articles raised doubts about whether she could be returned to Earth. The dog, name still unknown, was reported to be a breed of husky dog known as a laika [21].

No single Soviet source gave out the official word at this point. Therefore, news reports quoted whatever Soviet source they could get to comment on the event -diplomats, planetarium directors, unnamed experts. The question that overshadowed all others was not the technology involved, but whether the dog would be returned to Earth. Initial reports gave no indication, although some news articles did mention that when the Soviets used dogs in their suborbital rocket flights, the dogs had been returned by parachute.

Past criticism of the use of dogs in their ballistic rocket programme had made the Soviets sensitive to this issue, making it understandable why they were not eager to immediately set the record straight. On occasion, they had been careful to hold press conferences after successful launches to show that the dogs had survived and were in good health. When space dogs gave birth, mother and pups would often be put on display as well. Twice in October, the New York Times had reported about articles that had appeared in Soviet publications detailing the recovery of dogs from rocket flights using parachutes. So the idea that the Sputnik 2 dog would be recovered from space seemed a real possibility to concerned readers.

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