In the late 1950’s the Cold War was only a mere decade old when the incredibly competitive space race between the world’s two super powers at the time began. On the 4th of October 1957 the Soviets beat the Americans by launching the first ever rocket-satellite into space. It was called Sputnik 1 and it was the size of a basketball. Just 3 weeks later the Soviets wanted to beat another record – sending a living animal into space.
The Soviet president at the time Nikita Khrushchev gave an extremely tight 3 week deadline to his engineers to select the animal, train it as well as design and create the space rocket the same time. They had absolutely no time to waste so the scientists decided to send a stray dog into space. They assumed the strays from the cold streets of Moscow had already adjusted to living in harsh environments so they would be perfect for space. Three mutts were chosen: Albina, Mushka and Laika. Eventually after a couple of weeks of testing and preparation Laika was chosen to be the first living creature sent into space.