This September, NASA will celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landing. It was a momentous occasion, to be sure. But arguably more significant was the first time an Earthling left the planet, ascended to the heavens and experienced life (however briefly) in glorious, no doubt slightly nauseating zero gravity.
There are no ticker-tape parades in the works to celebrate these space age explorers, but there is a new book commemorating the dedication and sacrifice of the canine cosmonauts who beat humans to space but never got to make a small step – let alone a giant leap – on the lunar surface. With text by journalist Richard Hollingham, Space Dogs tells the inspiring (and at times horribly depressing) story of the Soviet space dog program, along with profiles of pooch pioneers like Laika.
The book contains contemporaneous photographs of dogs in space suits, but what really sets it apart are the spreads of kitschy vintage space dog memorabilia from the personal collection of documentary photographer Martin Parr: cigarette cases, clocks, pens. After all, can you truly honour something if you don’t give it a commemorative porcelain plate?
Grab a copy from Thames & Hudson or wherever books on space dogs are sold.