What type of animal was the first to orbit the Earth?

The first animal to orbit the Earth was a dog called Laika. She was launched into space aboard Sputnik 2 in 1957. She was a stray dog from the streets of Moscow in Russia. In the early days of space flight animals were used to test the safety of the technology, before humans tried it.

For further reading on the history of animals in space click here.

For an animation of Laika’s story, please see below:

For further reading on Laika’s story, please see the link below.

There is a special event this weekend to celebrate the 60th anniversary of Laika’s flight. Please click here for details.

How do birds fly?

A bird’s body is specially adapted to help it fly. The most important body parts are the wings, but there are other features of a bird’s body that helps it fly.

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A bird has hollow bones to make them light. They also have powerful flight muscles and a strong heart and lungs to provide the oxygen needed to power these muscles.

A bird’s wing works in similar way to an aircraft’s wing. They are a particular shape which is called an aerofoil. Because of the shape of the aerofoil, air flows over and under the wing at different speeds. Slower air flowing under the wing produces lift. While the faster air flowing over the wing produces drag.

When a bird flaps its wings the rotation of the wing with the lift propels the bird forward in flight. This is called thrust.

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Photo credit: Milan Bruchter via 123rf.com