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Remarkable survival of Russian space dogs who plummeted 125 miles to Earth when rocket malfunctioned then spent four days in -40C Siberian wilderness

Before man became brave enough to conquer space himself, canine cosmonauts were sent in our place.

It was a perilous job, with almost half of all dogs destined not to come home.

But two female strays employed in the Soviet space programme, Comet and Shutka, proved to be remarkable survivors.


Canine cosmonauts: Females Comet, left, and Shutka, right, survived a failed rocket launch in December, 1960

During a mission, the pair plummeted 125 miles to Earth after their rocket malfunctioned and remained trapped inside for four days in the Siberian wilderness.

To the astonishment of the Soviet authorities, they were found alive.

Their incredible story, as reported by The Siberian Times, has only just emerged after being kept secret for more than 50 years.

On December 22, 1960, the space dogs - who had been picked after surviving a rough life on the streets - were launched from Baikonur Cosmodrome on board a Vostok 1K spacecraft.

It was Comet's third space flight, having twice been sent into orbit the previous year.

But this launch would prove to be disastrous.

The rocket failed to reach orbit after suffering a malfunction in the third stage of the rocket.

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