Tsygan and Dezik lead the way

As 22 July approached, the day of the first launch, Yazdovskiy finally settled on the two dogs to make the historic flight: Tsygan and Dezik, who had both "demonstrated calmness and endurance through all the tests'' [7]. Along with Yazdovskiy's team, the dogs were shipped off to the launch site at Kapustin Yar.

The Kapustin Yar site had been selected for its remoteness and certainly not for the amenities it offered the resident workers and VIP guests come to watch a launch.

"Return with victory": the first dog flight 67

It was mostly barren steppe, bitterly cold in winter, unremittingly hot in summer and offering the barest accommodations. But it was in the midst of this desolation that an impressive contingent of spectators assembled one July day in 1951 to witness a truly historic rocket launch.

This would be the first time that dogs flew in a rocket. It might also be the first time that animals were ever recovered alive from a rocket flight. The United States had now attempted five monkey launches, and all the animals had died. But perhaps the greatest implication of this flight was how it would affect the continued support and goodwill of the Soviet scientific establishment. The military use of rockets always trumped their scientific use, and if the biological flights could not demonstrate their usefulness, they would be less likely to receive continued support.

Pre-dawn, 22 July 1951, Kapustin Yar. Before Yazdovskiy put the hatch in place to seal the dogs in the rocket, he petted them and said, "Return with Victory," a phrase commonly spoken to soldiers heading to battle [7].

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Essentials of Human Physiology

Essentials of Human Physiology

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