Preparing and Conducting the First Suborbital Flights with Dogs in the USSR: 1949–1951 (Based on the Documents from the Russian State Archive of Scientific and Technical Documentation)

 
PIIS020596060008414-7-1
DOI10.31857/S020596060008414-7
Publication type Article
Status Published
Authors
Affiliation: Institute of Russian History, Russian Academy of Sciences
Address: Moscow, Ul. Dmitriya Ulyanova, 19
Journal nameVoprosy istorii estestvoznaniia i tekhniki
EditionVolume 41 1
Pages118-134
Abstract

This paper looks into the experience of preparing for and conducting the launchings of R-1 geophysical rockets carrying dogs in 1949–1951. A number of the historiographic clich é s (the descriptions of how the dogs were selected based on their weight, of the dogs’ clothing, and how the tests were conducted) became established in the history of cosmonautics over the past decades. Taking this into account, the paper attempts to reconstruct the microhistory of the making of aerospace medicine, based on the declassified reports prepared by the first space medics from NIIIAM (Scientific Research and Testing Institute of Aeromedicine of the USSR Armed Forces). The scientists were experimentally addressing the issues of the size of the pressurized cabin, equipment installed in the cabin, dog restraining systems, and the dog’s position in the cabin. The choice of animal species to use in the tests was also important: the dogs’ trainability was found to be more important research-wise than monkeys’ and apes’ genetic similarity to humans because it allowed to conduct tests without general anesthesia. In the USA, the monkeys used in similar experiments were sedated during the launchings to prevent the animals’ excessive anxiety, which, according to NIIIAM reports, watered down the information obtained from such experiments. It is described how the first static test firing with dogs and the actual launchings were conducted during the period from July 22 through September 3, 1951. The summaries of all of 6 flights are provided; it is emphasized that the causes of failed launchings and dogs’ deaths were associated with the shortcomings of rescue equipment the enhancement of which resulted in the creation of pressurized suits and ejection devices for dogs in 1953.

Keywordshistory of cosmonautics, space exploration in the USSR, launchings of geophysical rockets, space biology and medicine, bioastronautics, suborbital flights
Received24.03.2020
Publication date25.03.2020
Number of characters38811
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