A Brief History
On March 9, 1961, the Soviet space agency launched Korabl-Sputnik 9, a space craft containing Ivan Ivanovich and his pets, into space and into low Earth orbit.
Not ready to try their space capsule with a real person, Ivan the Cosmonaut was actually a mannequin, though his “pets,” a guinea pig, some mice, and a dog named Chemushka, were real living critters. Launched atop a Vostok-K rocket from the Baikonor Cosmodrome, the Sputnik made only 1 orbit (which was the plan) before it was intentionally brought back into reentry.
During reentry, Ivan Ivanovich was ejected from the capsule in a test of the ejection system, and the rest of the capsule parachuted separately to the ground.
This flight may not have had the excitement of the first ever space shot (Sputnik I in 1957) or the first ever manned flight (Yuri Gagarin April 12, 1961), but it certainly was important to the Soviet space program. And now you know about it, too!
Question for students (and subscribers): Have you or anyone in your family been on a space craft? Please let us know in the comments section below this article.
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For more information, please see…
Charles River Editors. Soviet Russia’s Space Program During the Space Race: The History and Legacy of the Competition that Pushed America to the Moon. Charles River Editors, 2015.