"Laika, was a Soviet space dog (c. 1954 – November 3, 1957) who became the first animal to orbit the Earth and the first orbital death. Little was known about the impact of spaceflight on living things at the time Laika's mission was launched. Some scientists believed humans would be unable to survive the launch or the conditions of outer space, so engineers viewed flights by non-human animals as a necessary precursor to human missions. Laika, underwent training with two other dogs, and was eventually chosen as the occupant of the Soviet spacecraft Sputnik 2 that was launched into outer space on November 3, 1957. Sputnik 2 was not designed to be retrievable, and Laika had always been intended to die." -Wiki
This post on now voyager reminded me of Laika's story, only far less tragic.