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The dogs Belka and Strelka were sent into space and helped Russia to launch their manned missions. No means were available then to return these two little beauties to Earth, but they are proudly remembered.

Belka and Strelka– 50 Years Since Space Dogs Circled the Earth ~ Kuriositas

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Belka and Strelka

Belka and Strelka: Star Dogs - Commemorative postcard to honor the first time in history living beings made a space flight and returned safely to Earth (August 1960 launch of Sputnik

Essential Guide: Taxidermy Heroic Animals

Before Yuri Gagarin became the first human in outer space, numerous animals gave their lives for science in the often cruel and stressful tests of space flight. The first creatures to survive a 24 hour ordeal orbiting earth in a space craft were two spirited dogs named Belka and Strelka. All of the Soviet space dogs, including Belka and Strelka, were strays rounded up from the streets and put under various stress tests to see which were suitable for flight. It also helped to be cute and…

Essential Guide: Taxidermy Heroic Animals

Belka and Strelka preserved in the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics (via Wikimedia)

Illustration from 1962 Soviet children's book about space dogs Belka & Strelka