Laika (Russian: Лайка), born in 1954, was a husky dog from the Soviet Union who became the first animal to orbit the Earth in space. Originally found as a stray dog in the streets of Moscow, Laika was trained & selected to be an occupant of the Sputnik 2 spacecraft that was launched into outer space on November 3, 1957. She was chosen for the spaceflight by Soviet scientists because it was believed that strays had already learned to endure extreme conditions of cold & hunger. She was trained via simulations & learned to eat a special high nutrition gel for food before her space orbit.
Laika paved the way for human spaceflight and provided scientists with data on how living creatures react to spaceflight environments. Laika passed away during the orbit from overheating. A monument in her honor, featuring Laika standing on top of a rocket, was built in Moscow at the military research facility that prepared her flight into space. She is also featured on the "Monument to the Conquerors of Space", a popular space attraction in Moscow celebrating achievements in space exploration. Described as quiet and charming by the scientists who worked with her, Laika is viewed as a hero & a dog that did something to help the human race.