Korabl-Sputnik 2

Korabl-Sputnik 2
Mission type Biological
Harvard designation 1960 Lambda 1
Mission duration 1 day
Spacecraft properties
Spacecraft type Vostok-1K
Manufacturer OKB-1
Launch mass 4,600 kilograms (10,100 lb)
Start of mission
Launch date 19 August 1960, 08:44:06 (1960-08-19UTC08:44:06Z) UTC
Rocket Vostok-L 8K72 s/n L1-12
Launch site Baikonur 1/5
End of mission
Landing date 20 August 1960, 06:00:00 (1960-08-20UTC07Z) UTC
Orbital parameters
Reference system Geocentric
Regime Low Earth
Perigee 287 kilometres (178 mi)
Apogee 324 kilometres (201 mi)
Inclination 64.95°
Period 90.72 minutes
Epoch 19 August 1960 16:09:33 (UTC) [1]
Stamp issued to commemorate the mission

Korabl-Sputnik 2[2] (Russian: Корабль-Спутник 2 meaning Ship-Satellite 2), also known as Vostok-1K No. 2 and incorrectly as Sputnik 5 in the West,[3] was a Soviet artificial satellite, and the third test flight of the Vostok spacecraft. It was the first spaceflight to send animals into orbit and return them safely back to Earth. Launched on 19 August 1960, it paved the way for the first human orbital flight, Vostok 1, which was launched less than eight months later.

Korabl-Sputnik 2 was the second attempt to launch a Vostok capsule with dogs on board, as the first try on 28 July, carrying a pair named Bars (Snow Leopard) (aka. Chaika (Seagull)) and Lisichka (Foxie), had been unsuccessful after the Blok G strap-on suffered a fire and breakdown in one of the combustion chambers, followed by its breaking off of the booster 19 seconds after launch. Around 30 seconds, the launch vehicle disintegrated, the core and strap-ons flying in random directions and crashing into the steppe. Flight controllers sent a command to jettison the payload shroud and separate the descent module, but due to the low altitude, the parachutes only deployed partially, and the dogs were killed on impact with the ground. It was believed that the combustion chamber disintegration was due to longitudinal vibrations. This created a considerable uproar, as the problem, which had plagued earlier 8K72 launches, had supposedly been corrected. It was ultimately traced to deficient manufacturing practices at the R-7 assembly plant. The accident also encouraged the development of an ejector seat for the cosmonaut to escape from the capsule in the event of a launch failure, since the parachutes in the descent module would not be able to open properly until around 40 seconds into launch. This occurred, ironically, one day before the US program suffered a serious setback with the loss of a Mercury capsule.

A commonly circulated film clip depicting a Vostok booster lifting followed by the movement of its shadow on the ground is often assumed to be from Vostok 1's launch; however, it was actually the ill-fated flight of 28 July 1960.

The launch of Korabl-Sputnik 2 occurred on 19 August 1960, using a Vostok-L carrier rocket. Official sources reported the launch time to have been 08:44:06 UTC; however, Sergei Voevodin gave it as 08:38:24. A radio station in Bonn, West Germany, was among the first to pick up signals from the spacecraft, which were confirmed on the third orbit by a Swedish radio station.

The spacecraft carried two dogs, Belka and Strelka, 40 mice, two rats and a variety of plants, as well as a television camera, which took images of the dogs. One of its objectives was to intercept the US Echo satellite, which was a passive, nitrogen-filled balloon covered in reflective foil and so highly visible as it passed overhead. Korabl-Sputnik 2 passed near Echo on the second orbit, and the radio system returned audio of the dogs barking as they saw it out the window. The spacecraft returned to Earth at 06:00:00 UTC on 20 August, the day after its launch, although telemetry revealed that one dog had suffered seizures during the fourth orbit, thus it was decided to limit the first manned flight to three orbits. All of the animals were recovered safely, and a year later Strelka had a litter of puppies, one of which was sent to First Lady of the US Jacqueline Kennedy as a goodwill present from the Soviet Union. President Kennedy's advisers initially opposed taking the dog for fear that the Soviets might have planted microphones in its body to listen in on national defense meetings.

Strelka and Belka were both taxidermied after their deaths and placed on display in the Moscow Museum of Space and Aeronautics.

See also


  1. "Korabl'-Sputnik-2 - Orbit". Heavens Above. Retrieved 2 November 2015.
  2. McDowell, Jonathan. "Launch Log". Jonathan's Space Page. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
  3. Wade, Mark. "Vostok". Encyclopedia Astronautica. Retrieved 27 July 2010.
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