Laika by Jackie Perez | Script Revolution




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The true story of Laika, the Soviet space dog.
In 1957, a Soviet scientist is ordered to send his beloved dog on a one-way mission to space, and must decide if, in the race between superpowers, the price to be first is worth it.

In the fall of 1957, three short BEEPS take the world by surprise. The Soviet Union launches Sputnik, the very first satellite to reach orbit around the earth, and the world is never the same. Tensions ride high between world superpowers teasing intercontinental nuclear capabilities, and the space race blasts off.

Soviet Premier Nikita Khrushchev wants to wow the world with another launch right away. He orders Sergei Korolev, the Chief Designer of their country’s rocket program to get another mission into orbit in less than a month, with a bigger flair than before, to show the United States who’s boss. Meanwhile, the US scrambles to get their space program off the ground. Wernher Von Braun, a Nazi officer turned US Army rocket program lead, has everything he needs to move forward except the blessing of the Eisenhower Administration.

The US and the Soviet Union use animals to study the effects of space, preparing for the eventual human spaceflight. The US uses monkeys, and the Soviets train dogs. When a canine subject escapes from the training facility, head animal scientist Vladimir Yazdovsky plucks a new dog off the cold streets of Moscow, destined for something bigger than herself. Laika is perfect. She’s brought back to be tested for the mission. Laika and Yazdovsky are caught in the middle of the Cold War.

The Soviet scientists are up against a wall, without enough time to do the launch the right way. They must cut corners to meet their deadline because in this country, you don’t have a choice to push back. You figure it out. While Korolev readies the rocket, Yazdovsky puts the soviet space dogs through the wringer. Laika is new, but she’s a natural, passing confinement, vibration, and G-force acceleration tests with flying colors.

Laika is chosen for the honor of being the first living being to orbit the earth, but there is no time to engineer a return. The men are sending her on a one way trip. Her life doesn’t matter.. All that matters is beating the United States.

Yazdovsky is the first person to show her any kindness in her short life. He has fallen in love with the dog. He wants to do something nice for Laika, knowing she has so little time left. He brings her home the weekend before launch and his two young children love her instantly, giving her pets and affection she’s never had. When his wife learns of the mission plan, she can’t believe her husband would be involved with such a monstrous act. They have a fight as he tries to explain that he doesn’t have a choice. It’s his job, and Laika’s, to succeed for their country.

The United States attempts its first satellite launch. Millions watch a spectacular exploding failure on Cape Canaveral. While the world is laughing at the Flopnik attempt, the Soviets ready for lift off. In rushing to make their extreme deadline and last minute design changes, the lead engineer is unsure that Laika’s temperature regulation system will withstand the heat fluctuations in space. There is no time for second guesses. After a rushed goodbye, Laika’s fate is sealed into the capsule.

The launch is delayed and Yazdovsky fights for Laika’s release. Instead, he’s imprisoned by Korolev who will not let anyone get in the way of this launch. After three days with Laika stuck in her tiny capsule, Yazdovsky enlists the help of the sympathetic lead engineer with a plan to get fresh food and water to the dog. They get the capsule opened but have been found out by Korolev who won’t let them get in his way. Yazdovsky realizes he’s as expendable as Laika, a cog to be used by powerful men to gain even more power. He won’t let Laika die this way, not without going against the Soviet system and standing up for her innocent life.

Korolev gives an ultimatum. The rocket will launch no matter what and either Laika’s last memory will be of her beloved trainer being shot and killed in front of her, or he can say goodbye. Laika and Yazdovsky share a tearful moment and the capsule door is closed for good.

Laika gave everything in exchange for a little love. In the end, she lifts off into space and lands in our hearts.

Poster Background Art by: Juan Marín, modified for Script Revolution under a Creative Commons License with permission by the artist.

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This is a brand new script as of summer 2020 and currently in competition.

Submitted: June 22, 2020
Last Updated: September 16, 2020

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The Writer: Jackie Perez

Nuclear Engineer turned screenwriter. Unrepped and interested in a manager who is passionate about true stories and bloody genre-fare. I also love adaptations! After five years of active duty Navy service and a childhood of moving around the country as a military brat, Jackie moved to Los Angeles where she dove into the entertainment industry as an executive assistant at Creative Artists Agency and Perfect Storm Entertainment. She fell in love with screenwriting while completing the Writers Guild Foundation’s Veterans Writing Program and earned her MFA in TV and Screenwriting from Stephens College. She’s been writing ever since with a love for horror and passion for telling STEM-centric... Go to bio

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