Laika was the first living being to be launched into space and her adventure on spacecraft Sputnik 2 made an impression on many hearts. First and foremost, alas, on her own: it turns out that she probably died of a heart attack, or as a consequence of shock, a few hours after being launched into low Earth orbit. Laika never actually reached outer space, despite Soviet propaganda to the contrary. However, Laika had much posthumous fortune, especially as far as music is concerned, with compositions dedicated to her by Max Richter, Gorillaz and Arcade Fire, to mention just a few…
Also the Americans (symbolically) launched a much-loved dog into space during the Cold War: we’re talking about Snoopy who was the mascot of the Apollo 10 program in 1968. But in actual fact, the USA used to launch primates into space, far less beloved by humans than dogs (after all, few people have monkeys as pets), but much more similar to us.
Propaganda is always capable of making things up or embellishing them with great precision. If we look carefully, though, we realise that these ‘made-up’ facts are as translucent as fine face powder. Luckily, however, the memory of these little sacrificial mascot-victims lives on: lovable and intergalactic.