Laika began her short life as a stray dog in Russia in 1954, and ended it as a canine cosmonaut in 1957. Laika went into orbit aboard Sputnik 2, proving that a living creature could survive launch and weightlessness. But as no re-entry technology had yet been developed, she was doomed to die in space. There were many speculations on the death of Laika, with some claims that she had died of euthanization or that her death was the result of running out of oxygen, but news was finally released that Laika had died because of overheating while the spacecraft launched.
Ham, a chimpanzee, got off a little better than Laika. For one thing, Ham survived his flight aboard Project Mercury mission MR-2 and lived into the early ’80s. Ham was named No. 65 until he returned to earth successfully, reportedly because American officials didn’t want the bad press that might accompany the death of a ‘named’ chimp in case of an unsuccessful mission.