The best way to drink anything? From a rocket-shaped jug decorated with Soviet space dogs, Belka and Strelka.

The Best Way to Drink Anything? From a Rocket Full of Soviet Space Dogs

The Best Way to Drink Anything? From a Rocket Full of Soviet Space Dogs

Atlas Obscura
Your Guide to the World's Hidden Wonders
Feb. 29 2016 12:30 PM

A Rocket Full of Soviet Space Dogs ... and Vodka

Atlas Obscura on Slate is a blog about the world’s hidden wonders. Like us on Facebook and Tumblr, or follow us on Twitter.

The best way to drink vodka is not from an ice luge or in a martini that's shaken, not stirred. It is from a rocket full of Soviet space dogs.

Vintage porcelain jugs bearing the three-dimensional likenesses of Belka and Strelka, pioneering canine cosmonauts, have been popping up on eBay. They commemorate the flight of Korabl-Sputnik 2, which launched the dogs into space on Aug. 19, 1960. 


Belka and Strelka were not the first Soviet dogs to board a rocket. But they were the first to make it back to Earth alive. In November 1957, a dog named Laika was blasted into orbit aboard Sputnik 2. Unfortunately, she died from overheating within the first seven hours of the five-month mission—a detail that was not made public until 2002.

By contrast, Belka and Strelka returned to Earth alive and well following their one-day mission to space and back, during which time they were accompanied by a veritable Noah's Ark of creatures: one rabbit, 42 mice, a pair of rats, and a bunch of fruit flies. Their survival was cause for celebration, Soviet pride, and a whole lot of commemorative tchotchkes, ranging from candy tins to plates to porcelain figurines.

The rocket-shaped Belka-and-Strelka vodka jugs pictured were sculpted in the wake of their flight in the Russian village of Gzhel, a town outside Moscow that has been known for its folk ceramics since the early 19th century. Should you wish to have your very own, they sell for between $100 and $279.95 on eBay.

The real Belka and Strelka, preserved via taxidermy, reside at the Memorial Museum of Cosmonautics in Moscow.

More wonders to explore: 

Ella Morton is a writer working on The Atlas Obscura, a book about global wonders, curiosities, and esoterica adapted from Atlas Obscura. Follow her on Twitter.