Sputnik, the world’s first artificial satellite, was launched 50 years ago this week. A few months later, the Russians sent the first animal into space (although there may have been some small arthropods in Sputnik). That animal was Laika the Space-Dog. When I was a boy, she was still famous, and we were told she died painlessly. They lied. Now she’s largely forgotten, although, like Elvis, she lives on and even has her own page on MySpace. There is an interesting article from Nature about the true history and iconography of Laika.