Another Dog Is Sent Into Space, But This Time It’s a Toy

As a science experiment, schoolchildren in England equipped a dog named Sam with a camera and GPS device, and launched him into the stratosphere on April 5 using a giant helium balloon.

Unfortunately, upon re-entry, Sam was separated from the balloon and fell 15 miles to Earth.

“I had an assembly the next day in which I broke the news,” Siobahn Collingwood, principal of Morecambe Bay Community Primary School, told NBC News. “You could have heard a pin drop. There was silence and shock.”

The good news: Sam is a toy dog.

The students hope someone will find Sam and return him to them. They’ve launched a #FindSam campaign on social media that’s going viral. Sam is probably somewhere in a 40- to 50-mile radius of the landing site in Burnley, England. (If you happen to find him, contact Morcambe Bay’s Midland Hotel, where you’ll be rewarded with a free stay.)

“The children created history with the space launch and would love to see Sam the dog safely returned with tales to tell of his adventures,” Collingwood told NBC News.

Laika, a Real Dog Lost in Space

Almost 60 years ago, another dog was launched into space but did not return safely to Earth. In that case, it was a real dog named Laika.

Laika (Russian for “Barker”) was a 2-year-old street dog in Moscow who got the dubious honor of being the first animal in space because of her small size and calm demeanor.

“Laika was quiet and charming,” wrote Dr. Vladimir Yazdovsky, who took the “cosmomutt,” as she was called by pundits, home to play with his children before her ill-fated mission. “I wanted to do something nice for her: She had so little time left to live.”

It wasn’t until she was launched into space aboard Sputnik 2 that Russian officials disclosed it would only be a one-way trip. The announcement was met with outrage.

“The Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals averted complete telephone paralysis only when a quick-thinking operator urged all callers to ‘make your protest direct to the Soviet embassy,’” Time reported in November 1957.

In a desperate attempt at damage control, First Secretary Yuri Modin insisted that Russians loved dogs. “This has been done not for the sake of cruelty but for the benefit of humanity,” he stated, according to Time.

Romanian postage stamp honoring Laika. Photo credit: Neozoon

Romanian postage stamp honoring Laika. Photo credit: Neozoon

Speaking of cruelty, it wasn’t easy for Laika even before the capsule was launched into space. Because of a technical problem, she had to sit in the cockpit for three days on the launch pad. As the temperature dropped, workers heated the capsule using a hose.

According to the official story at the time, Laika survived for a week in space before she was euthanized by a programmed injection. As terrible as that sounds, the end of her life was actually much worse.

At the 2002 World Space Congress, people involved in the project revealed what had really happened. Laika had access to food and water, but she was chained so she couldn’t turn around. Just a few hours after the capsule was launched, she died of overheating and stress.

Laika wasn’t the only dog who died on a Russian space mission. Of the 12 dogs that succeeded her, five died. Finally, in 1960, two dogs named Belka and Strelka made it safely to space and back again.

Before Sam, the last dogs sent to space were Verterok and Ugolyok, who spent 22 days in orbit in 1966. Ever since then, real dogs have stayed where they belong – here on Earth.

Photo credit: YouTube

58 comments

Siyus Copetallus
Siyus Copetallusabout a year ago

Thank you for sharing.

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Maggie A.
Maggie D1 years ago

Animals have, and are, sacrificing much for the human race.

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Randy Q.
Past Member 1 years ago

This is Major Dog to Ground Control....I'm stepping through the door....And I'm floating in a most peculiar way....And the stars look very different today

For here........Am I sitting in a tin can....Far above the world

Planet Earth is blue....And there's nothing I can do.....................

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Carole R.
Carole R1 years ago

I still can't figure out why anyone wants to go into space. We can't get along here.

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Randy Q.
Past Member 1 years ago

Thanks! Out of this world!

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Sherri S.
Sherri S1 years ago

Dogs, monkeys, etc.....humans need to stop exploiting! Poor dogs. They deserved better!

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esther w.
esther w1 years ago

teddy instead of poor laika, god rest her soul...

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Fi T.
Past Member 1 years ago

Never leave a life unattended

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