Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Soviet dog’s space capsule could fetch $10 million at Sotheby’s

The Vostok 3KA-2, a giant rusty ball, orbited the Earth on March 25, 1961. It carried a life-size cosmonaut mannequin and a live dog, and landed two hours after launch in a snow-blanketed field about 700 miles from Moscow. Three weeks later, cosmonaut Yuri Gagarin climbed into an identical vehicle and became the first human to travel into outer space. The test capsule could fetch as much as $10 million when auctioned on April 12, the 50th anniversary of Gagarin’s voyage. The four-legged cosmonaut traveling on 3KA-2 was named Zvezdochka and fared better than some of her canine predecessors just by surviving. The documentary footage played at Sotheby’s shows the dog looking alert, if slightly out of breath, when removed from the capsule. Sotheby’s offered the test capsule in 1996, with an estimate of $800,000 to $1 million. It didn’t sell and was later acquired privately by an anonymous U.S. businessman directly from the Russians. Source

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Zvezdochka photo from Corbis "The dog shown is "Zvezdochka" (Little Star), one of Russia's "Space Dogs," which was reportedly launched and returned safely to earth upon command, in a five-ton Soviet space vehicle, on March 25th. This was the fifth such vehicle to be successfully put into orbit by the Russians, in their attempt to put a man into space and return him safely. The soviet news agency, TASS reported that the dog "feels normal." The main purpose of the launching was "the further improvement of the design of the satellite spaceship and its system" for putting a man into space and returning him to earth."

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