[Mar. 10, 1961] Dog and Puppy Show (Sputnik 9)

We are definitely not far away from a person in space.  The Soviets launched another of their five-ton spaceships into orbit.  We’re calling it Sputnik 9; who knows what they call it?  On board was just one dog this time, name of Chernushka, who was recovered successfully after an unknown number of orbits.  It is pretty clear that the vessel that carried Chernushka is the equivalent of our Mercury capsule, and once the Russians have gotten the bugs out of the ship, you can bet there will be a human at the controls.

This is not to say that the American program is standing still—one of our astronauts may go up on a suborbital jaunt as early as next month.  But the Atlas booster, the big one that can put a man in orbit, won’t be ready until the end of the year, at the earliest. 

By the way, if you’re wondering how the two dogs who went up in Sputnik 5, Strelka and Belka, are doing, you’ll be happy to know that they are alive and well.  Strelka’s given birth to a litter of six!  Anyone want to adopt a space puppy?

Meanwhile, closer to home (but not that much closer), NASA sent its X-15 spaceplane on its fastest flight yet.  I explained not too long ago that the X-15 has got a new engine, one designed to propel it to unprecedented heights and speeds. 

Sure enough, the powerful XLR99 engine pushed the spaceplane and pilot Major Bob White to a height of 77,000 feet and a record speed of 2,650 mph (Mach 4.43).  That was nearly 400 mph faster than White had managed using the weaker XLR11 engines—and he didn’t even open the throttle wide open!

“I felt no sensation of speed except for the explosive thrust when I first lighted the engine.  That was about double the acceleration of the smaller engine used in earlier flights,” White said after the flight had made the Major the fastest man alive. 

While the X-15 will never propel itself to orbit (at least, not without some kind of booster-assisted help, plans for which have been drafted), it will fly as fast as Mach 6 and up to 300,000 feet.  At that height, the sky is black and the limb of the Earth is round; one could argue that it’s close enough to Space to count as Space by any measure that matters.

Stay tuned for the rest of this month’s Galaxy!

3 thoughts on “[Mar. 10, 1961] Dog and Puppy Show (Sputnik 9)”

  1. Thanks for the update. Including about the dogs – love the puppy picture!

    The quote fom White was certainly interesting, too.

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