60 years ago today, Laika became the first animal to orbit the Earth. She died in space; alone, in agony, and terrified.

She was a stray who was plucked from the streets of Moscow, selected for her small size and bright coat (that would show up nicely on film.)

She passed away five hours after she was thrust into orbit (although for over 40 years the truth was covered up and officials insisted she was alive for days after take-off.)

She died due to overheating. The satellite wasn’t sufficiently insulated from the sun’s rays, and she essentially cooked to death.

The Soviets admitted that they never planned for her to make a return trip, and knew she would perish in the experiment.

“Laika, the first animal to be launched into orbit, died from overheating and panic in the tiny spacecraft – all alone and in severe pain.”

“The more time passes, the more I’m sorry about it. We shouldn’t have done it.”

Remember Laika, and the 115 million other animals used in experiments worldwide each year.

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