14. Succeeding where Sputnik 2 had failed, Korabl-Sputnik 2 successfully launched living animals into outer space in August 1960 before returning them safely to Earth
Launched on August 19, 1960, Korabl-Sputnik 2, referred to in the West as Sputnik 5, was the first spaceflight to send living animals into orbit and successfully return them safely to Earth. Attempted initially on July 28, one of the rocket boosters suffered a critical failure 19 seconds after launch. Resulting in the disintegration of the launch vehicle, both dogs on board, Bars and Lisichka, were killed upon impact. Carrying two replacement dogs, Belka and Strelka, forty mice, two rats, and a range of plant-life, after spending almost a day in outer space the Korabl-Sputnik 2 returned to Earth on August 20.
Although one of the dogs had suffered seizures during the fourth orbit, all the space-faring animals were recovered in good health from the Korabl-Sputnik 2, paving the way towards manned orbital flights. Strelka, in fact, would give birth to a litter of puppies in 1961, one of which was presented as a gift to the First Lady of the United States, Jacqueline Kennedy, by the Soviet Union. Almost triggering a diplomatic crisis, it was seriously debated within the Kennedy Administration whether or not to accept, with advisors fearing that the dog might have microphones surgically implanted in its body before common sense prevailed.