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Sixty years ago this month, the Russians sent a dog called Laika into orbit on Sputnik 2. The first animal to orbit Earth, she sadly died of heat stress during the flight. But the first animals in space (defined as starting at an altitude of 100 km) were fruit flies. The tiny astronauts were blasted into space on an American V2 rocket in July, 1946, to test the effects of exposure to radiation at high altitudes. They reached an impressive altitude of 108 km and were parachuted back to Earth and recovered alive.
Tara Swann (I Love English World, 299)
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