Laika Martin S. Gotfrit

The first being to travel to outer space was a female part-Samoyed terrier originally named Kudryavka (Little Curly) but later renamed Laika (Barker). She weighed about 6 kg. The pressurized cabin on Sputnik 2 allowed enough room for her to lie down or stand and was padded. An air regeneration system provided oxygen; food and water were dispensed in a gelatinized form. Laika was fitted with a harness, a bag to collect waste, and electrodes to monitor vitalsigns. The early telemetry indicated Laika was agitated but eating her food. There was no capability of returning a payload safely to Earth at this time, so it was planned that Laika would run out of oxygen after about 10 days of orbiting the Earth. Because of the thermal problems she probably only survived a day or two. The mission provided scientists with the first data on the behavior of a living organism in the space environment.

Lima Alpha India Kilo Alpha is a live electro-acoustic multimedia work for performer, console and interactive software. A meditation on the early days of Soviet space exploration, the sounds and images are mainly derived from archival material such as sound recordings, images and telemetry. A somewhat narrative work, the main protagonists are Yuri Gugarin and Laika; two beings that captured the imagination of the planet in the late fifties with his courage and her sacrifice.

The piece is controlled entirely from the console in real-time. Sound files and synthesis algorithms are called up and “orbited” around the audience via four independent channels/speakers.

In addition to archival recordings of Laika and Yuri, transmissions from Earth to the capsule and data/telemetry signals from earlier launches, the piece features orchestral instrument samples.

Sputnik 2 was the second spacecraft launched into Earth orbit and was the first biological spacecraft. It was a 4 meter high cone-shaped capsule with a base diameter of 2 meters. It contained several compartments for radio transmitters, a telemetry system, a programming unit, a regeneration and temperature control system for the cabin, and scientific instruments. A separate sealed cabin contained the experimental dog Laika. Engineering and biological data were transmitted using the Tral_D telemetry system, which would transmit data to Earth for 15 minutes of each orbit. Two spectrophotometers were on board for measuring solar radiation (ultraviolet and x-ray emissions) and cosmic rays. A television camera was mounted in the passenger compartment to observe Laika. The camera could transmit 100-line video frames at 10 frames/second.

Sputnik 2 was launched on a Sapwood SS-6 8K71PS launch vehicle (essentially a modified R-7 ICBM similar to that used for Sputnik 1) to a 212 x 1660 km orbit with a period of 103.7 minutes. After reaching orbit the nose cone was jettisoned successfully but the Blok A core did not separate as planned. This inhibited the operation of the thermal control system. Additionally some of the thermal insulation tore loose so the interior temperatures reached 40 C. It is believed Laika survived for only about two days instead of the planned ten because of the heat. The orbit of Sputnik 2 decayed and it reentered Earth’s atmosphere on 14 April 1958 after 162 days in orbit.

  • Year of composition: 2004
  • Duration of the submitted work: 15:57
  • Production: Daddio Studio (home)

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More works by Martin S. Gotfrit