Since I heard that Belka and Strelka, two Soviet cosmo-mutts, were on display at the Space Museum at VDNKh, I've been itching to get back and pay my respects. Today was the day.
Belka and Strelka spent a day in space in 1960 with a grey rabbit, 42 mice, 2 rats, flies, and a number of plants and fungi. They were all the first living creatures to go into orbit and return alive.
Meet Strelka ("Arrow"). Now taxidermy-ed, she's in the museum and looking towards the heavens. She's in serious need of a pedicure.
As is her buddy Belka, which means "Squirrel" or "Whitey."
They were only two of many Soviet space dogs. You can read all about them and their colleagues (collies?) on Wikipedia. My favorite was Bolik (Болик), who ran away just days before her flight in September 1951. Smart girl. She was replaced by ZIB (a Russian acronym for "Substitute for Missing Bolik", "Замена исчезнувшему Болику" Zamena ischeznuvshemu Boliku), an untrained street dog found running around the barracks, who was quickly located and participated (although certainly not willingly) in a successful flight.
I'm going to name my next dog "ZIB."
Belka and Strelka had some great PR.
Here's a photo of the intrepid travelers while they were still on this earthly plane.
Here they are pushing a hand cream.
And on a post card. Which, it seems, they autographed.
Finally, here they are promoting an upcoming movie, Belka and Strelka: Star Dogs, that is supposed to come out this year.
I can guarantee that when I see this DVD in the grocery store, I'm buying myself a copy.
Waiting... - *In October on Manezh Square, outside of the Kremlin* It's the final countdown until the Olympics... Here's a link to an article that was in the "Russia ...
11 months ago