Travelling on Sputnik 2

The Mysterious Traveler was a multimedia project as it could only be before the advent of the world wide web: it was a radio program, which started on the 5th december, 1943 and went on, with mixed fortunes, until the 16th september, 1952; an anthological magazine (on which Ray Bradbury among others wrote short stories), published between 1951 and 1952; and a comic book, also anthological, of which 13 issues were released every two months between august 1956 and june 1959 (not counting the two volumes of 1985). Published by Charlton, it had Steve Ditko as its leading artist (he was not the only one, anyway) and, like the other two products that preceded it, contained fantasy and science fiction stories with a hint of crime.
The protagonist of Tales of the Mysterious Traveler (this is the name of the comic book) is a... mysterious traveler in a raincoat and with a wide-brimmed hat pulled over his eyes. The mysterious traveler moved from the most disparate corners of the universe and there was no barrier capable stopping him, neither the boiling heart of a planet, nor the cold and dark desolation of outer space.
On #12, the mysterious traveler is sent (perhaps) by Joe Gill and Bill Molno aboard Sputnik 2. This was the second object launched by the Soviets into space, and the first to bring a living being on board, the dog Laika.
Sputnik 2 had been launched on the 3rd november, 1957 and Laika had been chosen among various strays, proving to possess the qualities for the mission that was imposed on her. The mission, then, was practically suicidal: the soviets had not foreseen any system for the recovery of the dog. In partial defense it could be said that the time available to them was limited: under pressure from the then soviet president, Nikita Khrushchev, Sputnik 2 with Laika on board had to arrive by the end of 1957 to be able to worthily celebrate the fortieth anniversary of the october revolution.
In any case, as noticed by passers in the two-pages story I was there!, the dog died because of her heart that couldn't stand the stress of the journey. The final cartoon of the short story is certainly consoling, but it does not cancel the outcome of Laika's life, nor the uselessness of this sacrifice, as Laika's trainer Oleg Gazenko recalled:
We haven't learned enough from the mission to justify the dog's death.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Markup Key:
- <b>bold</b> = bold
- <i>italic</i> = italic
- <a href="">FoS</a> = FoS