M.P. Carver, “Laika” Transcript

On November 3rd, 1957, from the Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan, Laika was launched into space.

[Music begins, guitar, playing single notes, vibrato, modest reverb on voice.  Clips of a male Russian voice fading in and out for a few lines]

As Gazenko remembers it, he and his engineers worked against time and risk to the mission installing a window for Laika.  Yazdowsky took her home to play with his children four days before the launch.  The next day, he surgically installed the biometric sensors for pulse, breathing, and blood pressure, then set Laika in her hermetic compartment inside Sputnik-2.  Three days later, closing the hatch, the technicians reportedly kissed her nose and wished her bon voyage.  De-orbiting technology had not yet been developed.

[Music fades out for second, then guitar picks up, strumming, more Russian clips]

They called her Laika
called her kudryavka
Called her limonc-hik
Little curly
Little bug
little lemon
took in the view before Gegarin
before Glenn
before Tereshkova
before Ride

[Interlude, guitar continues, then transitions back to single notes]

After three hours of weightlessness, Laika’s heart rate returned to prelaunch levels. She died 5-7 hours into the flight, after orbiting the earth about 4 times.  Sputnik-2 made over twenty-five hundred more orbits before burning up on reentry, five months later.

[interlude, guitar picks up, then transitions back to single notes with moments of strumming and clips of Russian towards the end]

That first time the whole world fit
in Laika’s little window
made by Gazenko
and the guilt-ridden engineers
their applied joke
Schrödinger or something –
and that disappointing punchline
“We didn’t learn enough from the mission
to justify the death of the dog”

[Long interlude, guitar strumming and Russian voice]

[Guitar transitions back to single notes as voice begins, slight increase on reverb on voice]

Little heartbeat orbiting history
Little 13 pound moon
Laika hit the horizon

[Guitar ends]