The dog Laika, the first living being to orbit the Earth, lives on in our memories along with her lethal Sputnik 2 mission, on which she was an unwitting pioneer in the USSR's space program more than 57 years ago.
Over at the online science book review Download the Universe (where I am a contributor), journalist Veronique Greenwood has a fascinating review of the dense memoirs of a Boris Chertok, a Soviet rocket scientist. She writes:
History's worst rocket tragedy actually occurred on the ground, in 1960, when the Soviets were experimenting with a dangerous new fuel. Piers Bizony chronicles it in his upcoming book, How To Build Your Own Spaceship:
The Buran space shuttle was once the apple of the Soviet space fleet's eye. Unfortunately, it has now been reduced to floating peacefully down the river Rhine, where it will eventually come to rest at the Technik Museum Speyer in Mannheim, Germany. The great shuttle took to the skies only once during an unmanned test…