Soviet space dogs – During the 1950s, USSR propaganda artists produced a huge range of emblematic images celebrating the role of dogs in Soviet space exploration.
The amazing true story of Soviet astronaut dogs
Soviet space dogs – A stray dog from Moscow named Laika was the first living creature ever to be sent into space. First appearing in the Soviet daily Pravda in 1957, this photo shows Laika on the Sputnik II.
Soviet space dogs – Laika became a national treasure, a sort of martyr for the USSR. As such, the celebrity dog would appear on a range of posters, toys and stamps. This is a portrait of Laika on a postcard (1958) by the artist E. Gundobin, with the first three Sputniks in the background.
Soviet space dogs – The text on the reverse of this Chocolate card (1964) explains how dog astronauts helped man explore the physical effects of space flight.
Soviet space dogs – Wee Beep Sputnik hat (1957), with sprung antennas and space dog theme. "Wee Beep" refers to the sound emitted by the first Sputnik, which could be heard by anyone with a short-wave radio. Visible from the Earth through a telescope, it prompted a wave of Sputnik mania.
Soviet space dogs – As one of many label designs celebrating the first living being in space, this Matchbox label from 1957 reads ''The First Sputnik Passenger - the dog Laika'
Soviet space dogs – A Laika-like dog gazes from the cabin in this tiny piggy bank from 1957.
Soviet space dogs – A USSR-era envelope (1966) with a cartoon version of the dogs in their spaceship.
Soviet space dogs – A matchbox label (1959) from the Borisovsky Works shows a space dog flying to the Moon.
Soviet space dogs – Following the sad death of Laika in 1957, the USSR set their sites on a dog duo to boost national moral. Belka and Strelka were the next heroes, set to take flight in 1960. This photograph shows the dogs at their first press conference.
Soviet space dogs – This stamp shows a group portrait taken at the press conference held on 28 March 1961. It's Bulgarian, dating from when it was a satellite of the Soviet Union.
Soviet space dogs – Belka and Strelka became national celebrities on landing, and a range of memorabilia was produced as a result. Illustrated by Yuri Galperin, "The Adventures of Belka and Strelka" was a childrens' book, released in 1961.
Soviet space dogs – This postcard (1960), by the photomontage artist Sveshnikov, shows the dogs Belka and Strelka in their rocket. The flags read "Happy New Year".
Soviet space dogs – Belka and Strelka also featured in propaganda. This 1960 space poster by the artist K. Ivanov fshows both dogs and reads "The way is open to man!"
Soviet space dogs – The success of Belka and Strelka inspired a range of other flights. This postcard produced in Italy around 1960 shows an image of Kozyavka ("beauty") the space dog. Kozyavka and another dog called Damka were set to take flight in 1960, but the upper rocket stage failed and the flight was abandoned. The dogs were recovered from a suborbital flight.