The following is an audio uplink by excavator Theronomous Moon, received at 23:18 on Nov. 3.
“As the chief scientist on the excavation — Mulgrave is laughing — OK, as the only scientist on the excavation — that did it … he … there he goes … [laughs] — I figured it was up to me to initiate the celebration, because … well, no one else was really going to care, actually. Anyway, give people an excuse to drink and they don’t care what you’re celebrating.
“[Clears throat] OK, so, today [Nov. 3] is the 50th anniversary of the launch of Sputnik 2. It carried the first living creature from Earth to enter orbit, the dog Laika.
“We didn’t get a chance to celebrate the anniversary of Sputnik I a month ago. I mentioned it, but … well, we were busy with the residential unit and what we’re calling the Solarium and the wall — or Wall, I should say, with a capital “W,” which is how Marta refers to it. We reported that we found what must be a computer terminal, right? If we get some juice into it …
“Marta’s waving at me. She heard her name. [To Marta] I’m just uplinking about … OK. Anyway. But I didn’t want this one to get overlooked, this anniversary, and not just because I own three golden retrievers [laughs]. It’s just … this one’s just different.
“The spacecraft Sputnik 2, from the Soviet Union, was launched on Nov. 3, 1957. Sputnik 1 launched the Space Age. Without the Space Age, there would be no Heliopoli. And without Sputnik 2 — well, what would we be without? It taught us that we could go into space, right?
“Laika was found as a stray in the streets of Moscow. There was actually a training program to get her ready to go into space. Well, I described all this at the ceremony.
“I got everyone gathered at the edge of the Great Plaza at sunset. Sunset is a very special time in Heliopoli. The way the light hits … when I go on like this Mulgrave rolls his eyes. OK. Well, I wanted a plaque to commemorate things or something, but we didn’t have anything to make a plaque with. We had two bottles of champagne — actually Simone had two, for her wedding anniversary, and I asked why she needed two, and …. yeah, I can be a lunkhead sometimes.
“But everyone was set. We popped the champagne, and I said this:
“‘We gather together today to honor the first living being to enter Earth orbit, 50 years ago today. The dog Laika was first placed in the space capsule three days before launch. She was fitted with a harness, and chains restricted movement to sitting, standing and lying down; there was no room in the cabin to turn around. She was fed food and water in gelatinous form. After launch, telemetry indicated that she was agitated but eating her food. The thermal control system did not operate properly, because the Block A core did not separate like it should. From five to seven hours after launch, Laika died of stress and overheating.
“‘The spacecraft was not designed to be retrievable. It was planned that she would live 10 days and be euthanized, but she didn’t last that long.
“‘The craft was destroyed on April 14, 1958, during re-entry.
“‘We honor the first intrepid explorer of space. She hadn’t volunteered, wasn’t aware of where she was and didn’t know where she was going … well, that describes all of us, doesn’t it.
“‘The Man in the Moon has a pet, and her name is Laika.’
“And then we toasted her name.”