On November 3, 1957, the Soviet Space Administration launched the first living being into orbit aboard an ICBM R-7 rocket. The Sputnik 2 mission was steeped in layers of secrecy and disinformation. To capture the competing stories surrounding Laika, I used different materials and fragments.
An 11-pound terrier mix rescued from the streets of Moscow, Laika for decades was seen as a hero. But just below the surface her story becomes more poignant and tragic. Initially Soviet media announced that Laika would orbit for 10 days and be returned safely. The story quickly changed to reveal that the capsule was not designed to survive re-entry and Laika would be euthanized painlessly with poisoned food. Decades later, it came to light that Laika only survived a few hours and died when her capsule overheated.
I picture Laika floating weightless inside her capsule, suspended between technology and imagination. I picture her story, suspended between myth and lies. I picture her body suspended between heaven and earth – her remains never returning to Earth but immolating when, in April 1958, Sputnik 2 re-entered the atmosphere and burned up. In each panel, elements are suspended in layers – stars, trajectories, bones, earth, and type are hidden, revealed, and obscured again.