PHOTOS: Apollo 18: Myths of the Moon Missions
In the beginning of March, several engineers and high ranking officials from the Soviet Strategic Missile forces left Moscow for Leninsk, a city near the launch site of Tyura-Tam. They were there to launch two unmanned missions designed to test the man-rated Vostok 3A spacecraft.
Though unmanned, these test flights did have significant biological payloads. The first flight, Korabl-Sputnik 4, carried a small dog named Chernushka - or Blackie - on board. Along with the pup were 40 black mice, 40 white mice, several guinea pigs, reptiles, plant seeds, human blood samples, human cancer cells, micro-organisms, bacteria, and fermentation samples. There was also a human analogue, Ivan Ivanovich, the Russian equivalent to John Doe, whose hollow body was stuffed with more mice, rodents, and biological samples.
Beyond a dry-run for the eventual manned missions, these flights were also vital tests of the communications systems that would let engineers in mission control talk to their orbiting cosmonaut. The simplest way to test the system was to send Ivanovich up with a recording that could be automatically played from the capsules and received in Moscow. But just what that recording could be was a question.