On the March 25th of 1961, the last dog-cosmonaut named Zvyozdochka (in translation from Russian: Little Star) completed a successful space flight. Her contribution to science gave the Soviet scientists enough confidence to start sending humans to space. Zvyozdochka was launched just a couple of weeks before the first human, Yuri Gagarin, stepped out to journey into the outer space
Like every other dog that had traveled to space before Zvyozdochka, she was a stray dog found on the street. The space program that existed in USSR had a goal to complete two consecutive successful space flights with animals on board before they intended to send people. A space-dog that traveled to outside Earth’s orbit right before Zvyozdochka, returned safe and sound. This is why the success of the upcoming space launch was critical to scientists of the time.
Zvyozdochka was originally nicknamed Udacha (trans: Luck), but Gagarin liked to joke that cosmonauts believe in superstitions and renamed her. She was launched in the spacecraft Vostok ZKA №2 and traveled a loop around the Earth. Hours later, Zvyozdochka safely landed in the region of Udmurtia and was retrieved from her parachuted capsule. After her heroic landing on March 25, 1961, a final decision was made on the first man’s flight into space.