Monday, August 27, 2007

Dogs In Space

Yesterday afternoon Chris and I ventured out to the Museum of Jurassic Technology in Culver City where, among the odd and unusual exhibits (micromosaics made of butterfly wings, x-ray-like photoradiographs of flowers, creepy video projections of discombobulated hands making string art), we came across a dimly lit gallery dedicated to the dogs of the Russian space program.

Remember Laika? Her portrait was there, along with a half-dozen of the other mutts (literally: female mixed breeds only) that were projected into space in the late 50s and early 60s.

What I didn't know, and what made me an incredibly sad museum-goer at that point, was that Laika didn't die humanely as was reported to the media for decades after the mission - she died of stress and heat exhaustion just hours after launch.

Oleg Gazenko, one of the scientists responsible for selecting and sending Laika into space in 1957 would say, decades later: "Work with animals is a source of suffering to us all. We treat them like babies who cannot speak. The more time passes, the more I'm sorry about it. We shouldn't have done it. We did not learn enough from the mission to justify the death of the dog."

Indeed, sir. Indeed.

Museum of Jurassic Technology
9341 Venice Blvd.

Culver City, CA 90232

Wikipedia on Laika

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