Laika the space dog postcard. Artwork on postcard of Laika, the bitch who became the first animal in space. She was launched aboard the Soviet Sputnik 2 spacecraft. Sputnik 2 was launched on 3 November 1957. Laika (meaning Husky or Barker) was contained within a sealed cabin with a food store and an air conditioner. Soviet propaganda at the time maintained that she survived for about a week, but in fact she died after just a few hours due to overheating and panic. The spacecraft was not designed to be recovered and it burnt up as it re-entered the atmosphere on 14 April 1958, 162 days after its launch.