Today marks the anniversary of the first Earth-born creature circling our planet from Space. Laika — a pointy-eared petite mutt found as a stray on the streets of Moscow — boarded Sputnik 2 and was blasted into orbit on November 3, 1957. While it was revealed in 2002 she’d died from overheating just hours after launch, her journey symbolically stands as the beginning of guided space exploration.
Laika was far from the last animal astronaut, and from cats to rats to spiders to unfortunate geckos, humans have employed a whole menagerie of other animals in experiments in survival. None of them chose to go on such voyages, and while there is something somber in that lack of consent, these brave creatures are also representative of the expansion of possibility in space exploration. Check out our graphic guide to some of these incredible astro-beasts below!
Graphic created by Michelle Enemark, text by Allison C. Meier.
And as a way of conclusion, here’s a video of the quail chicks spinning in zero gravity: