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Sputnik 6



This spacecraft carried two dogs, Pchelka and Mushka, as well as a television system and other scientific instruments. The flight lasted for one day. The reentry was unsuccessful, because the cabin was burned, precluding successful recovery and destroying the two animals.

Sputnik 6 (1960 Rho), also referred to as Korabl Sputnik 3, was the third in a series of spacecraft designed to further the development of an Earth orbiting system for the planned Soviet crewed space program. The objectives of the program were to: put a spacecraft that could potentially carry a cosmonaut into a circular Earth orbit; test the life-support functions of the biological cabin; study the effects of orbit and space environment on biological and botanical specimens; and to re-enter from orbit and retrieve the cabin and specimens. The spacecraft had a mass of 4563 kg and contained a hermetically sealed pressurized cabin. The cabin held biological specimens (dogs, mice, rats, flies, plants, fungus, etc.). There was a temperature and pressure momitoring system for the biological subjects and cosmic ray, X-ray, and ultraviolet radiation detectors. Power was provided by solar cells and chemical batteries. Transmissions were at 19.995 MHz.

Sputnik 6 was launched on 1 December 1960 at 7:26 UT from Baikonur Cosmodrome into a roughly 187 x 258 km (116 x 160 mile) altitude orbit with a period of 88.5 minutes and an inclination of 65 degrees. The cabin re-entered on 2 December, according to Soviet reports the spacecraft trajectory was incorrect, causing it to burn up when it encountered the denser layers of the atmosphere, destroying all biological specimens. It was later learned that the incorrect trajectory, due to a faulty firing of the re-entry rocket, would have caused the spacecraft to land in territory outside of the Soviet Union's control, where it could have been examined by another country, and so it was destroyed automatically by the Emergency Object Destruction System. (Some reports indicate the destruction was triggered by ground command.)

Alternate Names

  • 00065
  • 1960 Rho 1
  • Korabl Sputnik 3
  • Sputnik6

Facts in Brief

Launch Date: 1960-12-01
Launch Vehicle: Modified SS-6 (Sapwood) with 1st Generation Upper Stage
Launch Site: Tyuratam (Baikonur Cosmodrome), U.S.S.R
Mass: 4563 kg

Funding Agency

  • Unknown (U.S.S.R)


  • Engineering
  • Life Science

Additional Information

Questions and comments about this spacecraft can be directed to: Dr. David R. Williams



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