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Bad news: America enters the age of Sputnik 2

I knew Laika the space dog was never intended to return to earth. I always imagined her death something uniquely awful; agony fading into crusty dessicated orbiting dog mummification horror. Brrrrr.

Well, read and be comforted. She was one of several strays picked up on the streets of Moscow and trained for the mission. Though bringing her back alive was never on the cards, they didn’t intended to let her starve or suffocate or anything. After a week — which was as long as the radio transmitter had in it — her daily food ration was supposed to contain a euthanizing agent. So they say.

In fact, she died within hours of liftoff, of the heat — some thermal insulation came loose during launch, leaving the capsule too exposed. So, not nice, but essentially the same death that uncounted dogs face every year in the back seats of cars.

Five months later, Sputnik 2 re-entered the atmosphere and went to bits on the way. So the horrible thing I have drawn for you is not up there going round and round and round.

Rich Lowry has a terrific article in the New York Post today about Obama’s Sputnik myth — the grossly misguided idea that the appropriate response to scary events is a huge transfer of money and power to the government for a giant engineering project. He suggests we replace one of my least favorite phrases with this one: “If we can send a man to the moon . . . we can waste lots of money based on false analogies.”

Good weekend, all!

January 28, 2011 — 10:38 pm
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