Canine collectible: Soviet cosmo-dogs’ spacesuit sold for $18,000 at auction
The four-legged, full body suit was used in the training of the dogs Belka and Strelka, says Auctionata website.
“This is a brown lace-up full body suit with breathing apparatus. The dog space suit can be adjusted to the size of the dog at body and legs with strings. There is a ring in the front for the helmet’s insertion,” says the description under the lot. “The tube for the oxygen supply runs along the lower side of the suit.”
The starting price of the unusual suit was set at 4,000 euros ($5,180) despite an estimated value of about 8,000 euros ($10,370). It was aadvertised as coming “in good condition”, with its purchase also possible online.
The suit was made by RSC Energia, the largest Russian manufacturer of spacecraft and space station components.
“This was one of the first space suits for dogs to test the effects of low gravity and high-speed launches on living organisms,” the suit’s description says.
The owner of the collection is Andreas “Andora” Hoge, a German pop artist, who came to Moscow to decorate the space-bound Proton booster. During that training he met a lot of people, pioneers of the Soviet space program in the 1950s and 60s, who were going through hard times.
“They brought me memorabilia and asked me for money to buy food or medicine. Basically, we just exchanged these wonderful pieces for money. My collection kept growing for seven years,” he told RT.
In 1960 Belka and Strelka spent a day in space aboard Sputnik 5, before safely returning to Earth. They were the first Earth-born creatures to go into orbit and return alive.
Their key mission paved the way for the first manned flight in space, made by Soviet cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin in 1961.
However, not all space dogs were as lucky as Belka and Strelka. Laika went into space in 1957 but died from stress and overheating during the flight. Pchyolka and Mushka spent a day in the orbit in 1960, but due to a navigation error, their spacecraft was destroyed to prevent its secrets falling into American hands. Sadly, the dogs died.
The flight of Veterok and Ugolyok, on the other hand, was successful and considered to be the longest space flight by dogs.
Apart from the spacesuit there will be other Soviet space memorabilia, including cosmonauts’ autographs, commemorative stamps and medals, and collectible pins. There will be a bottle of cognac tasted and autographed by Yuri Gagarin, and a 1963 porcelain bust of the spaceman. It also includes a small piece of Vostok 1, Gagarin’s space capsule in which he made his first flight to space.