Say what you will about the Soviets, but you can't argue with this reasoning for sending dogs, rather than monkeys, into space. If there's one universal truth of dogs, it is that they are "suited to endure long periods of inactivity." Lynne brought the subject of these Soviet cosmonaut dog-heroes to my attention, including those pictured at right — Belka (which "most likely means 'Whitey,'" according to Wikipedia's "Soviet space dogs" entry) and Strelka ("Arrow"). They were the first animals to go into orbit and return alive, spending August 19, 1960 in space before returning to Earth. Wikipedia helpfully adds that they were accompanied by some friends from the animal kingdom: "a grey rabbit, 42 mice, 2 rats, flies and a number of plants and fungi." All passengers survived.(Thanks to Dan Mogford, who grabbed the image off a commemorative Soviet matchbox).