17 Cold War space souvenirs celebrate Russia's famous cosmonaut dogs

Let's face it: It's really a dog's world, we're all just lucky enough to share it with them.  To further prove the truth of doggy dominance, here's a salute to the hairy, unsung heroes of the Soviet space program of the late '50s and early '60s in the form of a cool collection of vintage memorabilia and retro souvenirs sporting the happy faces and wagging tails of Laika, Belka, Strelka, Zvezdochka, Chernushka and Kozyavka.

From 1951-1966, these brave canine cosmonauts and a dozen others hurtled in the heavens in a series of experimental orbital and suborbital space flights, subjected to scientific tests and health monitoring that greatly advanced the USSR's manned space program.  Laika, a husky-terrier mix, became the first animal in orbit aboard Sputnik 2 on Nov. 3, 1957, but unfortunately died when severe stress and overheating issues occurred five to seven hours into the flight.  On Aug. 19, 1960, Belka and Strelka became the first animals in orbit to return safely to Earth aboard Sputnik 5, joined by 42 mice, two rats and a rabbit.

National heroes to their country, these intrepid pooches were superstars and featured on everything from candy tins to cigarette packs, breakfast cereal boxes, collector plates and propaganda posters.  Travel back to the origins of our inspired space programs when Russian dogs ruled the stars, and check out these amazing marketing memorials to their fame.

(Via io9)

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