Space Suit – 3

In fact, this article was in Episod-2 however, since it is a slightly different and special subject, I wanted to evaluate it under a separate heading, let’s continue… I mentioned earlier that dogs, mice and chimpanzees are used to study their behavior in a zero-gravity environment in space studies. Naturally, the space suits designed for these creatures would not have been possible without mentioning the clothes, because the criteria in the designs were similar.

Until today, some of their species, some of their small structure, some of them only because they are female; dozens of creatures from dogs, chimpanzees, worms, crickets, salamanders, snails, ants, sea urchins, moths, shrimps, maggots, frogs, rabbits and mice have been selected for space missions. The first thing I can say is that they were used as guinea pigs and were not as lucky as humans. I think this sentence will be a warning about what awaits you in the rest of the article.

Some people say, “Well, what happened, experimental mice produced for this purpose are used for many experiments today!” she might think. It’s like saying, “If they’re going to die, then let’s send people sentenced to death into space for testing.” I will not discuss this here. But after all, we are talking about a living thing, and like everyone else, their right to life is sacred. More affection and protection could have been shown, even for a race.

Why Are Animals Sent Into Space?

The answer is simple. For example, to see what happened before sending people, to put it more clearly, let’s learn what will happen to them first, and then we take the necessary measures. In fact, this issue of sending live animals did not start during the cold war period. The Mongolfier brothers, the inventors of the hot air balloon we all know, started simple experiments with this by sending sheep, ducks and roosters into the balloon. Then, in the period from 1947 to 1960; radiation exposure, physiological response, life support and rescue systems by high altitude balloon flights are not only in monkeys and dogs; It has been tested on many animals, including aquarium fish and even fruit flies.

Chimpanzee And Monkey Species – Space Suit

Image-1. A live capsule placement. (Image Credit: NASA)

I realize how disturbing the above image is, so I apologize to our readers for this, but this has all happened in the past. I especially chose this picture as the best visual expression of what kind of torture they have endured for people. Even a single frame adequately describes the fear in the creature’s eyes.

In the picture, we see the chimpanzee, whose movements are restricted as much as possible in the first animal flight versions and placed in a swaddle-like tube. His torso and arms were motionless in the already narrow tube. He can see the head and tail stabilizer ties on both sides of the head.

Can you imagine the fear and the screeching noises of a creature fixed in this way? Moreover, they would not be able to show any reflexes against fear or use an expression such as “hello Houston, we have a problem” when faced with a problem.

Image-2. Chimpanzees together. (Image Credit: NASA)

In this picture, three chimpanzees are seen, all almost the same age and species, and probably instinctively holding hands, dressed in tight flight suits. Although the hands and head appear to be free in the picture, the feet and waist are fixed. The hands were probably tied before the capsule was closed because the straps at hand level can be seen in the photo. Compared to other creatures, it’s not hard to imagine that chimpanzees use their dexterity and that humans want things not to be tampered with.

When you look at the picture in general, the emotionality is in the foreground and the hands are joined as if to say “don’t be afraid, I’m with you”. But if you look at the picture once from right to left, it is obvious that they send a very meaningful and subtle message to the senders with their body language.

Image-3. Chimpanzee space suit and flight shelter pod. (Image Credit: NASA)

Here is a special suit designed for another chimpanzee after it is removed or before it is dressed. In my opinion it is before wearing it. Because the chimpanzee looks quite calm in the picture, its clothing is not wet, not wrinkled and not soiled, no fecal contamination is visible.

Its fur is damp, as if it had been wiped with diluted alcohol to connect the electrodes on the ground. The suit is not airtight, but the suit is reinforced with criss-cross strings to protect body integrity and against a possible loss of in-cab pressure. Flight suits with this type of criss-cross knit system are also used by Russian pilots. After the chimpanzee was dressed, it was placed in the carrier cabin on the right, allowing them to travel. The head of the cabin was shaped according to the back of the chimpanzee’s head.


Image-4. Laika’s spacesuit. (Image Credit: NASA)

The coarse garment seen in the picture above; It is the space suit used by the Soviet dog Laika, whose real name is “Kudryavka” meaning “little curly”, which was the first living thing to orbit the Earth in 1957.

This system, which looks more like a jumpsuit than a suit, had a hood fixed to a bell-like body on the front, air conditioning and oxygen hoses, oxygen and vital information monitoring sensors.

The Laika mission is one of the events that affected me the most with its tragedy in space studies. You know, we’re hurting with the news of the abuse of many animals lately; It will be like a fidelity to commemorate Laika’s memory with a few sentences, and to commemorate her and the primates who lost their lives in other missions (burning, crazy, etc.). Because this little dog was the first dog to die for the last point reached in today’s manned flight studies.

Why Dogs?

It was predicted that dogs were not mobile like chimpanzees, but were more inactive for longer periods of time. In the selection of dogs, especially stray species were preferred instead of dogs kept at home. I mean, stray dogs. Accustomed to the harsh conditions of the outdoors, he had strong instincts to feed himself and find water/food. For this reason, it was thought that they would adapt to difficult flight conditions more than house dogs.

To train the dogs, they kept them in small, closed boxes for periods of 15-20 days. The same centrifugal training methods used in the training of astronauts today were tried, It was exposed to various levels of G force. The dogs were often fed a high-protein, fiber-rich food gel (such as jelly) during their space travels. It was thought that dogs with food available at all times and without defecation problems would show a more adaptive behavior.

Space was not a habitat for dogs. And of course the trainings. Moreover, these training areas were much different and difficult than a simple dog training track. As a result, more than 60% of the dogs prepared to go into space were found to have constipation and gallstones when they returned to base.

Laika was also a female…

The end of the 1950s was the period when the cold war and the space race accelerated. Scientists of the time had considered sending a dog to see what would happen before manned flights in the space environment in upper orbit. There were 3 dogs named “Albina”, “Muşka” and “Laika” trained for this purpose and Laika was chosen among them. Until then, they did not have enough knowledge about what would happen above and what kind of danger people would face. In fact, in this mission, Laika was not expected to return alive.

In fact, both superpowers sent dogs into space during suborbital flights at that time and observed the changes in these dogs. Accordingly, problems such as the onset of restlessness, deterioration in vital values, increased blood pressure and pulse, and cessation of urine output in a narrow space have been detected. (Dog feeders know that even if the dogs are tied, they force themselves to the last moment not to defecate and pee in their closed nests unless they are forced too much.)


Image-5. The narrow carrier area where Laika is placed with spacesuit . (Image Credit: Roscosmos)

Apart from the spacecraft Sputnik-2, which will carry Laika, cosmic rays and radiation, etc. There were measuring instruments and a fan system that would operate at a certain temperature for protection from excessive heat. Respiration, heart rhythm (ECG), blood pressure, etc. It had sensors to monitor the values, but due to time constraints, some units were completed in haste.

After all, Laika was an animal, and despite her involuntary movements, she was restrained with chains and straps. Its comfort is; In a 7-day liquefied gel-like food and waste collector bag, it consisted of oxygen support, carbon dioxide scavenger. The Baikonur launch site was extremely cold in October. First, the cabin was heated, its feathers were combed, the feathers were wetted with a weak alcohol solution and the electrodes were painted with iodine. Then the flight procedure was started but from the very beginning something started to go wrong.

Exposed to a serious G force right after takeoff, Laika’s respiration jumped 3-4 times and her heart rate jumped from 103 to 240. For the first time, think about the effect of excessive vibration and noise on Laika’s psychology in such an environment. With the Sputnik-2 vehicle reaching orbit, the nose cone was separated, but the part called the A block could not be separated and the temperature control systems were paralyzed. This problem caused the temperature of Laika’s cabin to rise to 40 degrees Celsius. (Normally, above 15 degrees, sensors were supposed to activate and cool Laika)

The orbit was in zero gravity and Laika spent about 3 hours in this environment, her heart rate dropped to 102. According to the incoming data, it showed that Laika ate her food before she died, although she was nervous. Between the 5-7 hours of the mission, there was no longer any indication that Laika was alive. Five months later, the spacecraft left orbit, entered the atmosphere in April 1958, and burned to pieces.

Although the facts were hidden at first, due to reasons such as running out of oxygen, etc., he actually died a few hours after the launch due to a technical failure during the separation of the compartment and overheating in the cabin. Later, theories were put forward about Laika’s eating her last meal, that the Soviets poisoned her with this meal. I just hear you say.

The uncontrolled departure of the spacecraft from orbit with the meal seems to indicate that the system does not have a controlled orbital exit and return to earth procedure. In this case, when considered together with the thesis that no return and survival is foreseen, as stated above, Laika said “human in their own way!” It is possible that they found a solution.

In short, Laika became the victim of a hastily planned mission for the Soviets to reach the 40th anniversary of the October Revolution. Even if statues are erected in his memory, one of the land targets on Mars is named after him, and even if stamps are issued, Laika will not be able to feel any of them. Maybe Laika was originally a stray dog, but he died as a noble dog and his name went down in history.

His last happiness; it was to let Vladimir Yazdovski, a scientist and surgeon in the army, take Laika home the day before the flight and have her with her children; however, he too knew that Laika would not return, and he wanted to do something for her.

The following words of Oleg Gazenko, who was one of those responsible for this task after the collapse of the Soviet Union, actually explains everything, even if it is dramatic. “

“Working with animals is a source of suffering for all of us. We treat them like babies who can’t talk. As time goes on, my sadness for it grows. We shouldn’t have done that… We haven’t learned enough from this mission to make the dog’s death worth it.”

The Drama of Chaika And Lisichka

The same doctor Vladimir Yazdovsky; After Laika took part in the Korabl-Sputnik 2 mission from the Sputnik-2 mission. This time, with 2 dogs named “Chaika” and “Lisichka”, however, the head was applied here and the launch vehicle broke up after a short time.

They made a great commandment initiative for those used to raising dogs in Australia. The interesting thing is that the accident in the project that we will describe in our first article, which will happen one day after this accident, would only happen.

Belka ve Strelka

Image-6. Mummified dogs and space suit. (Image Credit: Roscosmos)

Belka and Strelka

Of course, the loss of all animal flights did not end, in the following periods, the Russians sent 40 mice at once, together with dogs named “Belka” and “Strelka”, and the animals were able to return to Earth alive. On these missions, one of the dogs was found to have had a seizure in orbit. In 1961, a year after this descent, a cub of Strelka was born. The Russians sent this pup to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis, the wife of American President John F. Kennedy, as a show of goodwill and gift.

What do you think was the reaction of the other side?

The Cold War was a period when moisture was caught from the flying bird or the air. So much so that it could reach the level of paranoia from time to time. This went down in history as an example to him. John F. Kennedy’s advisers and security experts were concerned that the dog had eavesdropped on its body, and at first they were adamantly opposed to the dog’s removal.

In the picture above; At the Russia/Moscow Space and Aviation Museum, you can see both canine bodies mummified after their deaths, and on the right, the environment-controlled capsule, which is more developed than the first versions.

Veterok Ve Ugolyok

Veterok_ve Ugoljok

Image-7. Veterok and Ugoljok (Image Credit: Moscow Aviation and Space Museum)

Let’s talk about dogs named Veterok (Light Breeze) and Ugolyok (Embers), albeit with one line each. The record of these two dogs being launched with the Cosmos 110 rocket in 1966 and staying in orbit for 21 days was not broken by humans until the Soyuz 11 series in 1971. These two dogs still hold the record for the longest space flight among dogs.

Felix or Felicette

It is the cat that takes part in the French space program with the mice. In 1963, 14 female cats were selected for the test for their calm qualities, and none were named to prevent an emotional connection between them and those working with them. The cats had implants surgically placed in their heads to monitor their neurological activity. All of their trainings were prepared and implemented by the Aviation Medicine Education and Research Center (CERMA). The training ground was no different and no less oppressive. For example, a rotary platform was used to create the high G centrifugal effect alongside the sound-simulated rocket noise.

Cats were also confined to closed and narrow places like dogs in training, and this training lasted for 2 months. The unnamed cat, code C-341, was named on October 17, 1963, after many glitches and tests on the carrier spacecraft. The fact that he was calmer than the others and his weight loss were factors in this. Electrodes were attached to his left fore and right hind feet for heart monitoring, and 9 electrodes were placed on his head to monitor cerebral activity. Two separate microphones were placed to monitor breathing data.

The suborbital launch and 13-minute flight from Algeria were successful, and the cat suffered an impact of 9.5 Gs. If we add the G shocks experienced by the carrier on the descent and during the parachute deployment, it will be better understood how difficult the situation is for the cat. The C-341 was later given the media name Felix, but CERMA replaced it with a more feminine word, Félicette.

“Were the French more merciful?” You may be thinking. I think you wouldn’t think the same thing if I told Félicette that she was euthanized and killed just 2 months after she was awarded the title of the first cat in space, and her brain was autopsied to examine, that the electrodes implanted in that head were sent electrical signals to keep the cat awake and better data collection was aimed while awake.

In a second subsequent attempt, another cat’s carrier capsule was found dead inside the rocket nose cone due to parachute malfunction and locator malfunction. Not exactly is known about what happened to the other cats. However, when one of the cats got sick after implant placement, it was exempted from the task by the team and adopted as a mascot by the team, and it is stated in some sources that the other 9 cats were dismissed.

Other Creatures

France (the macaque monkey), Argentina (the tufted capuchin monkey), China, and Iran (the monkey) conducted similar trials and sent these creatures to high altitudes. In some of these works, parachute malfunctions generally occurred, but some of them were able to land safely.

Two turtles and various insects were sent into lunar orbit by the Soviets in 1968 with the Zond-5 spacecraft. On the other hand, on the Apollo-17 mission, the last manned lunar voyage, astronauts orbited the Moon 75 times with 5 mice.

I hope this special episode; It changes your perspective on any unclaimed or owned animal you see on the street. Remember, this world does not belong only to us. Please do not think that these silent servants have no soul and do not harm them in any way, because they do not speak the same language as you. Do you have a dog that makes you very angry, spoiled or disobedient? Remember Laika, you will calm down. If they could do something for us, we can well do something for them. In this hot weather, no one gets poorer by putting a bowl of water and a bowl of food in front of our door or shop. When we learn to live together, our love will grow together and the Earth will become more beautiful.

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Aysun Bagiyeva Alirza

Dünyadaki Mars Projesi (DMP) Azerbaycan gönüllüsü ve yazarı. [ Mars on Earth Project (MoEP) Azerbaijan Chapter Volunteer and author. ]

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