Soviet Space Dogs – Unknown heroes

I found this newly released book yesterday in the Wellcome Collection bookshop and was so excited! As you probably are aware – I am a rather large canine fan. The book is a fully illustrated affair, dedicated to the dogs involved in the Soviet Space Programme in the 50s and 60s. It’s written by Olesya Turkina – a researcher at the State Russian University.

Scientists in Russia spent years in secret, training stray dogs from the streets of Moscow to fly up to the sky in rockets – this book tells the historical ‘tail’…

Everybody has probably heard of Laika (the first dog to enter orbit in space who sadly died – RIP), but many probably don’t know about all the other dogs who were flown up into sub orbital space prior to Laika being sent into orbit. This book has tons of amazing pictures of rare ephemera and photographs of the dogs – as well as comprehensive text telling the story around the Soviet Space dogs programme. This BBC 4 documentry is also great if you want to learn more – it covers quite a lot about the dogs involved in the USSR space race!
^ Belka and Strelka were the dogs on-board the second orbital flight carrying a canine. They were the first dogs to survive orbital space flight! Overnight they became heroes and were plastered over packaging and featured in children’s stories.cig littlefox spacedogs1
^ The BBC documentary I linked above and below features lots of actual footage of dogs in rockets! ussr
My favourite part of this book is probably the back section – as there is a chronological list of all dog flights complete with photos and results (so you know if they survived or not! – more survived than you would think! Thank god!)

All parts of this BBC documentary are on YouTube so just search for them – I think it’s split into 7 parts! Here is the first part, enjoy!

Now I want to buy the special postcard edition!

5 Responses to “Soviet Space Dogs – Unknown heroes”

  1. I’ve always wanted to know more about the dogs that Russia sent to space, but was worried that I’d find it pretty upsetting! Just thinking about poor Laika makes me feel a bit down :'(

    Your review has been an eye-opener though and I’m keen to read Soviet Space Dogs now (the fact that most of the doggies survived is fantastic!). I’m looking forward to watching the documentary as I find it all fascinating and inspiring :D

  2. Hannah K B

    Hi Hannah! I had been thinking about buying this book for my boyfriend for a Christmas or birthday present (his birthday is on the 19th, lots of presents to think about at once) and remembered that you had posted about it. I wondered, how sad is it? I like the idea of it, but don’t want to buy him a book that will remind him too much of dogs having unhappy lives. The images and design look so good!

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