Monument to Laika, first Russian space dog unveiled in Moscow

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Moscow, Apr 12 (UNI) A bronze monument to Lika, Russia's first space dog and first living creature in space that opened the way for manned flights, was unveiled in Moscow.

The monument, inaugurated a day before Russia's Cosmonautics Day today is a two-meter (6.5 feet) high space rocket with Laika proudly standing on top.

The three-year-old mongrel, originally named Kudryavka (little curly-haired one), was selected from an animal shelter to become the first living passenger to fly on the Soviet Spacecraft Sputnik 2.

Laika was launched into space on November 3, 1957 and died a few hours later from overheating. Officials said she died due to a lack of oxygen, but the true cause of death was only made public in October 2002.

The experiment, which marked its 50th anniversary last year, paved the way for human spaceflight and provided scientists with information on how living organisms become accustomed to space environments.

"I am looking at the monument and indeed recognize Laika. She is glancing at the house where the pre-flight preparations and training took place," the head of Institute of Military Medicine, Igor Ushakov said at the unveiling ceremony.

Three years after Laika's death her successors, Belka and Strelka, went into space aboard Sputnik 5 safely returning to Earth.

Russia celebrates Cosmonautics Day today in honour of the historic first manned space flight made by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in 1961.

UNI XC NC BST1356

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