Laika was a Soviet space dog who became one of the first animals in space, and the first animal to orbit the Earth. The flight was meant to test the safety of space travel for humans, but it was a guaranteed suicide mission for the dog, since technology hadn't advanced as far as the return trip. Laika was a stray, picked up from the Moscow streets just over a week before the rocket was set to launch. All of the 36 dogs the Soviets sent into space — before Yuri Gagarin became the first human to orbit Earth — were strays, chosen for their scrappiness.

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