If you are thinking of gifting your favorite canine something special this winter but have no idea of what to gift, then you might want to take a look at auction in Berlin on September 13, where a genuine 1950s spacesuit for dogs is set to go for sale.
The four-legged, brown lace-up full body suit was developed by the Soviet Union and was used in the training of dogs Belka and Strelka during the 1960 mission Sputnik 5. Designed by RSC Energia, the largest Russian designer of spacecraft and space station components, it is believed to be one of only a small number of “dog space suits” to have survived to this day.
The prototype suit was originally used to test the effects of low gravity and high-speed launches on mammals. Thanks to the adjustable series of strings on the body and legs. The authentic suit is crafted from cotton, nylon, rubber and aluminum. The suit carries a ring in the front for the helmet’s insertion. The coat also comes with an attached oxygen tube that runs along the lower side.
The suits have been given different names like T-1, 1 and l/X-61 indicating that they have been used. Only a small number of dog suits have been preserved and this one is said to be in good condition. They approximately measure 28cm by 10cm by 21cm.
While the US used Chimpanzees to study the effects of gravity, Russian scientists chose dogs because they can be easily trained to sit still for long periods. Some experiments involved dogs being strapped inside small capsules and launching them to a height of 50 miles. The capsules then returned to Earth by parachute.
Lakia was the first popular dog to orbit Earth in 1957, but unfortunately died of stress and overheating during the mission. However Belka and Strelka returned to Earth safely in 1960 after completing their one day mission. They were accompanied by some other animals and plants, all of which survived.
In fact, Strelka gave birth to six puppies; and one of them named Pushinka was gifted to President John F Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline by Nikita Khruschev.
The dog suit is estimated to sell for $10,000 or so.